The man who last guided South Africa to an Africa Cup of Nations medal believes Bafana Bafana could do well in the tournament which they host a second time beginning this weekend, but only if the players show more determination.
Trott Moloto was Bafana’s head coach when they reached the continental championships’ semi-final at Ghana-Nigeria in 2000, where they won bronze, and while he admits home advantage could help SA this time, he’s far from convinced about what he says is lack of willpower from the current bunch.
“It has been clear in our last two (friendly) games (against Norway and Algeria) that we have a lot of work to do,” said Moloto, who is now head of technical at Mamelodi Sundowns. “We haven’t looked convincing at all, and that’s a fact. What we don’t see in the current crop of players is the determination to represent this country. These players look like they don’t have a heart to play for us.”
Under Moloto, Bafana finished third, beating Tunisia in a penalty shootout. Fast-forward to now and not too many are convinced the team now coached by Gordon Igesund would even make the knockout phase, such has been their sorry decline of the past decade. Igesund has been given a mandate of emulating Moloto – reaching the last four of the competition – or face the sack.
Bafana take on Cape Verde in this year’s tournament opener on Saturday (National Stadium, 6pm), and Moloto hopes the team would have solved their scoring woes by then.
“Goals will be critical for us to go further in this competition,” he said. “If we don’t score, we will struggle.”
Bafana failed to take any of their chances in their last two matches, losing to an under-strength Norway and then drawing 0-0 with Algeria. Moloto urged Igesund to alter his tactics for Saturday’s game to ensure Bafana beat Cape Verde.
“From what I’ve seen, our midfield is not creative enough. A different approach is needed there because you’ve got to open up defences to score. You can say we created a few chances against Norway, but two chances won’t win you any game.”
Had he been in charge now, Moloto says he would not have ignored Andile Jali as a midfield option. “Look at the combination at Orlando Pirates for the last three years (Jali and Oupa Manyisa), why not take that to the national team? But at the end of the day the coach makes his decisions and we have to support him.”
In spite of their unconvincing run into the tournament, Moloto expects Bafana to be boosted by home advantage. “There shouldn’t be an excuse (for failure) because we are playing at home. I coached Bafana outside the country (in 2000) and we did well. So imagine if millions of people are behind you. All those years ago, it was difficult playing away, but we were ready to die for the country. Everything was against us ... the food, logistics, poor training facilities, but we managed to pull through because the boys wanted to represent the country well. We have to count on home support this time to carry us through the first round, but whether that will be good enough to take us further is unclear.”
In the 2000 event, Moloto’s team topped their group with seven points, knocked out co-hosts Ghana in the quarterfinal before losing to Nigeria in the semi-final. - The Star