DURBAN – Bafana Bafana have a crunch Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) encounter against Namibia tonight (10pm) at Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo.
They go into this match with their backs already up against the wall after succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to Ivory Coast on Monday.
This presents coach Stuart Baxter with a challenge of a must-win situation tonight. They can’t afford to suffer another defeat, even a draw may not be enough to motivate them for their final tougher group match against Morocco.
Football writer Minenhle Mkhize highlights five key points on how Bafana can beat their neighbours Namibia.
1. Changes are needed:
We need to be on the offensive tonight. We have to play one central holding midfielder in Hlompho Kekana who should start ahead of Dean Furman. Kekana’s presence gives Bafana different options. He is physically imposing, he is a good tackler, industrious and can take long range accurate shots at goal.
On top of that, he has continental experience and will add to the depth in leadership and he has captained Sundowns at Champions League level.
Thulani Serero is another one that deserves to start. He is very creative and Percy Tau will need his passes to notch up goals. The midfield trio should be Kekana, Bongani Zungu and Serero and then they use the front three comprising of Tau, Thembinkosi Lorch and Themba Zwane.
We need more speed upfront and creative midfielders. Namibia will be sitting back, waiting for us to attack.
We need to break the deadlock as early as possible. The longer the game goes without a goal, the more confidence Namibia will gain. They will start to believe that they can initiate attacks. This Namibian approach was evident in their opening encounter against Morocco. They absorbed the pressure for 89 minutes.
It was a frustrating time for Morocco who went in expecting to sweep past the Namibians. It was a lack of concentration in the last minutes that led to their demise on the day. That’s why it is important for Bafana to get an early goal. If Baxter gets the selection right, our chances will be improved greatly.
3. Beware of counter attacks:
Namibia threatened Morocco on few occasions during the transition phase but they lacked numbers in the final third to create any meaningful openings. Deon Hotto is their main threat on the left hand side. If left unattended he can create havoc for our defence.
Bafana must be offensive but they also have to be cautious at the back. Namibia can be dangerous in transition.
4. Make use of set plays:
Namibia looked vulnerable on set plays against Morocco while Bafana threatened on a few occasions when they lost against Ivory Coast in standard situations. Thulani Hlatshwayo was causing all sorts of problems and can be useful if he can be picked out accurately by the free-kick takers. Bafana need focus a bit more to make use of set plays.
5. Right mentality is needed:
Bafana can’t afford to underestimate Namibia. In the past they have struggled against the so-called minnows. Bafana have suffered defeats against the likes of Mauritania, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Madagascar and held by small countries like Libya and Gambia. So, it is very important to approach today’s game with the right mentality.
Bafana need to understand that games are not won on paper but it is what you produce on the field.