at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane is sure to find it difficult to leave Siyabonga Nomvethe out of his starting XI for Sunday’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg.
The player’s form is such that no matter how much you try, it cannot be ignored.
And Mosimane may have to alter his tactics a little to accommodate the Moroka Swallows striker upfront for the qualifiers’ opener.
Mosimane usually has Katlego Mphela as the main man playing upfront, preferring to have a Thulani Serero or a Teko Modise playing just behind the marksman. However, partnering the Mamelodi Sundowns striker, who starts for Mosimane no matter what form he is in, with the Absa Premiership’s top scorer of the recent season could just do the trick to resolve the national team’s goal-scoring worries.
Ranked 67th in the world, Bafana have not won in their last six matches and in this period, Mosimane’s marksmen did not bear a resemblance to the Bafana of old, which had the likes of Benni McCarthy, Shaun Bartlett and Phil Masinga, strikers who scored regularly for the national team.
Without a goal in their last three encounters, Mosimane’s men need not hold a up a sign to signal to the nation that they are in desperate need of help in the striking department – it’s there for all to see.
And that help has come in the form of Nomvethe, the 34-year-old Moroka Swallows striker who is no stranger to scoring on the international scene – Bhele has netted 16 times in 79 appearances for the national team.
But can the two strikers’ strike up a formidable partnership from the get go and prove pivotal in the country’s quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil?
Former Bafana striker Shaun Bartlett, who built strong partnerships with Benni McCarthy and Phil Masinga in his international career before retiring, believes the two players can hit the ground running if they were to play together upfront.
“They are two different players and they could compliment one another very well upfront. I think they would be able to play together and do well for the team.
“But obviously it all goes down to what the coach wants. We are playing at home and I’m sure playing with two strikers will be good,” the one-time Bafana captain said.
Masinga agrees with his former strike partner and feels the presence of Nomvethe will take the pressure off a “not-so-fit Mphela”.
“Yes, I think that Mphela and Nomvethe can play together, if they use Mphela as a target man and then Nomvethe can play around him. Nomvethe is a mobile player and his presence upfront will be good for Mphela. If you remember Mphela is not so fit because of the injury he had not so long ago,” said Masinga, who scored 18 goals in his 58 appearances for Bafana.
“They just need to understand one another. When I played, I knew that Daniel Mudau at Sundowns would be running around the box, while I used my body to hold up the play. I took some knocks for the team,” added Masinga.
Young Orlando Pirates striker Tokelo Rantie is also an option for Mosimane, who perhaps can bring the striker on in the second half to cause havoc in the opposition defence and keep them on the back foot. The 21-year-old scored seven goals in the Buccaneer’s league winning season.
“He (Rantie) is an option, a good one for Pitso,” Masinga says. “He showed glimpses of brilliance towards the end of the season and it’s good that he is part of the squad. Whether he plays or not against Ethiopia, I think the boy will be a future top striker for the national team.”
Bafana need to rediscover their scoring touch and if the same Nomvethe who scored 20 goals in the 2011/12 Absa Premiership trots on to the Royal Bafokeng pitch on Sunday, South Africans could finally get to celebrate a victory again.
*Follow Tshepang on Twitter@MailONE1