JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki believes that the unity and positive mentality in the team is what will enable them to weather the storm heading into the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Sudan tomorrow.
The South Africans hosted Ghana to a 1-1 draw in the penultimate round of the qualifiers on Thursday. It was the West Africans who drew first blood through Mohammed Kudus who raced his way between two defenders before slotting home on the far post.
But Bafana, who had dominated the better share in the first half, equalised through a hard and low diagonal finish from Percy Tau. This result has put both sides level on 10 points, with Ghana top of Group C and Bafana second.
But despite the two teams holding qualifying positions, they are not out of the woods yet. Third-placed Sudan can still qualify for the finals in Cameroon after defeating islanders Sao Tome and Principe in their penultimate qualifier to reach the nine-point mark.
In order to qualify for their second successive continental showpiece, Bafana will need to salvage at least a point against Sudan at the Al Hilal Stadium in Khartoum State tomorrow afternoon. And Molefi is confident they’ll make the country proud.
“I might not be the best philosopher but they always say if you are faced with a storm, you can’t turn and take the direction of the storm. At times you need to be very strong so that the storm will be over,” said Ntseki, who's eyeing his first Afcon as the Bafana coach.
“I think with all the challenges that came in since I took over, the xenophobia, Covid-19 and players that have been denied permission to join us for camp, it has made us very strong. It has made the whole team believe in each and everyone. ”
He added: “If things continue like this, it means we are going to qualify for Afcon finals. The qualification will be a big celebration for all of us. The players and everyone want to better the position that we had in the last Afcon in Egypt.”
The South Africans found themselves in the same tricky position as the last edition of the qualifiers, needing a result in the last game in order to qualify for the finals. The last time out, Tau was their ‘Messiah', scoring a brace in their 2-1 win over Libya away in Sfax.
The 26-year-old pacey midfielder has already boosted his confidence with the goal against Ghana, given that he’s been warming the bench at English Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion since returning on loan from Anderlecht.
Tau, who scored his 13th international goal, is eager to meet Sudan. “We are in a difficult group and other teams are finding it difficult as well. When Sudan wins and goes to nine points, it’s different when they are on six points,” Tau said.
“But like I said before, we are looking forward to the next game. And if it means that we have to win away and have to celebrate it like we would have liked to today, so be it. It won't change. It happened before. So it’s another match for us.”