Here are three things we learned:
Structure as in a permanent coach
Yes, this again. Safa have gone silent with news of a successor for Shakes Mashaba. But what the two friendlies reminded us is that a new man has to quickly come in and build on the excitement generated by the 25-man squad picked by caretaker coach Owen da Gama. Talent isn’t an issue, and neither is desire. But the goalless draw against Angola in East London showed that this team can comfortably slip back into the same old inconsistent Bafana, and it is annoying. What a new coach will do is bring his own fresh ideas, try to pick out the positives from his predecessor, and put together a winning team. The ingredients are all there to deliver a team that can prove a tough customer in the remaining World Cup qualifiers against Cape Verde, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
The 3-1 win over Guinea-Bissau covered up the fact that the Bafana attacking line is still very much goal-shy. Kermit Erasmus, who started the game as a lone striker, and young Percy Tau both scored in either half, the former converting from the penalty spot. But they could not break the resolute Angola defence three days later, with Tau getting the nod to start ahead of France-based Erasmus. It looks likely that the scoring conundrum will continue given how many opportunities were fluffed. Maybe it is time whatever issues still exist between Rantie and Safa need to be ironed out before the crucial 2019 Africa Cup of Nations opener against Nigeria in June. He’s not the most prolific, but he is certainly the country’s best option for goals considering his record over the last two years.
Bafana’s European contingent proved beyond doubt that they give the national team a competitive edge that was missing during Shakes Mashaba’s tenure. The axed mentor, if his selection criteria was anything to go by, was convinced that the best of the bunch would come from PSL teams. With Kamohelo Mokotjo, Kermit Erasmus, Thulani Serero and Keagan Dolly all getting a chance to start at the same time in the win over Guinea-Bissau, there were fewer questions about their ability. Bafana’s opponents were a team almost made up entirely of players signed to Portuguese clubs, thereby enjoying a technically better background at club level. Nigeria are no different, and new coach Gernot Rohr is assembling a side that have their best players based at top clubs in Europe. It looks scary. Why shouldn’t Bafana go the same route? Of course South Africa isn’t fortunate with an abundance of those types of players pursuing their dreams all over the world, but there are enough of them and should be given an opportunity to impress and hopefully take Bafana to the World Cup in Russia next year.