Bafana Bafana

Shakes refuses to give up AFCON dream

2016-03-30 10:33
Shakes Mashaba (Supplied)

Cape Town - Bafana Bafana are buried - but not yet dead - in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying campaign. 

That is the view of coach Shakes Mashaba despite qualification now seeming highly unlikely following Tuesday night's 0-0 draw against Cameroon in Durban. 

That result followed a 2-2 draw away against the same opposition over the weekend, and it leaves South Africa on three log points in Group M, while Mauritania have seven and Cameroon eight.

Only the group winners are assured of automatic qualification for the 2017 showpiece in Gabon. 

Mathematically, Bafana still have a chance of pulling a rabbit out the hat, but Cameroon would have to draw away against Mauritania (June 3-5) and lose at home to Gambia (September 2-4) - a highly unlikely scenario. 

Bafana would also have to win both of their two remaining matches away to Gambia and then at home to Mauritania, and that is also difficult to imagine right now given that they have not won in the group as yet. 

Then there are still two AFCON 2017 places up for grabs for the two best-placed runners-up from the qualifying groups, but Bafana are well behind in that race. 

Benin are currently second in Group C with eight points while there are four teams second in their respective groups with seven points. 

Just two of those sides would have to win one of their remaining two fixtures to put South Africa out of their misery there.

It all points towards a failed qualifying campaign for Bafana - there is surely no way out - but still Mashaba remains surprisingly optimistic. 

"If we talk about the end of the road, it’s not the right thing to say," the coach said after the draw at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

"We still have another six points to play for ... we’re sitting on three points currently.

"If we win the next two games we sit on nine and hope that we can get the two slots for the two second-best teams. We’re not going to throw in the towel."

But, in truth, topping Cameroon seems a likelier scenario right now than sneaking into one of the two wildcard positions. 

"Anything in football could happen," said Mashaba.

"I know that when we went to Cameroon nobody gave us a chance. Everybody was saying we were going to be hammered, talking big names about the striker from PSV.

"It’s not about big names in football; it’s about what you can do."

Mashaba acknowledged that finishing chances remained his side's biggest stumbling block, but he refused to take responsibility for that.

"It is most unfortunate that when the national team doesn’t win the blame comes to the national team," he said.

"The problem of scoring goals doesn’t start here. Almost all coaches in the PSL ... you’ll hear them after not winning a game, they’ll tell you that it’s the problem of not scoring goals.

"It’s not a problem now ... it comes a long way this problem of not scoring goals. Maybe with time that will be sorted out, but not at a national team level. It needs to be addressed at club level."

Read more on:    bafan bafana  |  afcon 2017  |  shakes mashaba  |  soccer


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