OPINION: SAFA drops ball in Bafana assessment

2019-06-26 14:54
Thulani Hlatshwayo and Stuart Baxter
Thulani Hlatshwayo and Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The South African Football Association (SAFA) is sadly not renowned for objectivity in running its affairs or propagating them accurately and expeditiously on a website that is seemingly more absorbed in publicising the ongoing activities of president Danny Jordaan.

And so it came as no surprise that SAFA reported after Bafana Bafana's jarring 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) opening defeat against the Ivory Coast that only a 63rd minute breakaway goal from Jonathan Kodjia was the difference between two well-matched teams.

Most observers imbued with a degree of realism viewed the occasion at the sultry, mainly deserted Al Salam Stadium in Cairo as anything but a confrontation between two well-matched sides.

Instead, the overall general superiority and composure of the Ivorians was palpably evident and a scoreline of 4-1 or 3-1 in favour of the 2015 champions would have aptly demonstrated the difference between the two teams.

Only two truly world class saves by Bafana goalkeeper Ronwen Williams prevented the Ivory Coast from adding to their tally, not to mention a second scorching free-kick from the irrepressible Pepe that thundered against the crossbar.

A couple of hastily misfired shots and a well-taken header from Bafana captain, Thulani Hlatshwayo, following a corner, were the net sum of Bafana’s scoring efforts during the 90 minutes.

So what game was SAFA watching?

Where did a highly optimistic and reasonably complemented Bafana fall down and fail to come up to expectations at the first critical calling in Egypt?

Principally, it seems, despite a reasonably lengthy build-up programme - SAFA failed to provide coach Stuart Baxter with a series of build-up matches against stern opponents in order to provide a true and adequate test of the South African's ability and shortcomings.

Now SAFA has, at least, made one point right. The next vital AFCON game against a modest Namibia is a do-or-die affair!

Bafana have the mettle to do better than against the Ivorians, but with the extra pressure thrust on them to remain in the tournament, who knows, anything can happen.


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