Bafana Bafana

Lions of Teranga threaten to maul Bafana's SWC hopes

2016-06-27 13:42
Shakes Mashaba (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - It was a Soccer World Cup qualifying draw last week that was welcomed by Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, with invariably optimistic SAFA president Danny Jordaan expressing unequivocal confidence over South Africa making it to Russia for the 2018 tournament.

And, in truth, the four-team group in which Bafana finds itself in order to secure one of the five World Cup positions reserved for African teams could have evolved into something more formidable.

But lurking in the soccer bushes as a distinct threat to what is the vital objective of qualifying for the World Cup - particularly in view of Bafana's deflating failure to gain a place in next year's African Nations Cup tournament - are Senegal's imposing and feared "Lions of Teranga".

Now ranked fourth-best team in Africa and the side most World Cup aspirants on the continent were happy to avoid, Senegal's growing prowess is emphasised by the fact that  the "Lions of Teranga" are able to call on no fewer than 35 international players who are plying their trade in Europe.

In addition, Senegal are the only team to have won all five qualifying games for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Gabon, while possessing with Cameroon and Ghana the pedigree of being one of only three African countries to have reached the quarter-final stage of the World Cup.

This occurred memorably in 2002, highlighted by their astonishing defeat of holders France in the tournament's opening game.

But while Senegal loom as the most difficult obstacle facing Bafana in their World Cup qualifying campaign, the other two teams in the group, Cape Verde Island and Burkina Faso, are no pushovers either.

Cape Verde, in fact, have an appreciably better world ranking than South Africa and were placed in the second category of four teams among the 20 African countries vying for a place in Russia - with Bafana in the third group and Burkina Faso in the fourth segment.

And so, as has often happened in the past with dire consequences, the question will be raised whether South African soccer's hierarchy may again be under-estimating an imminent threat - this time posed by the ever-improving, imposing top-seeded Senegal.

Read more on:    bafana bafana  |  swc 2018  |  sy lerman  |  soccer


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