Bafana Bafana have to take the Cosafa Cup seriously
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JOHANNESBURG - DO not take your eyes off Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for major tournaments recently. But that they’ll host the Cosafa Championships next week in Gqeberha means that they have a chance to redeem themselves against their regional counterparts.
Many locals, myself included, will be hoping that they win the tournament at the expense of invited guests Senegal. The west Africans are the highest-ranked nation in the tournament, while they are one of the favourites heading to the Africa Cup of Nations next year.
Unfortunately, Bafana failed to book their ticket to Cameroon after their epic defeat to Sudan in their last match of the group stage. That was a disappointing outing by Bafana, given that the permutations were simple: get a draw.
But there is no time to sulk and moan around as Bafana have to ensure that they are sharp and ready to deliver in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which get underway in September. Fortunately for Bafana, Zimbabwe are one of the teams they will meet in the opening round.
The Warriors have proven that they are benefitting from the PSL where most of their players ply their trade. They will be part of the 24 teams that will be challenging for the 2022 Afcon title. And that is why Bafana cannot afford to take them for granted at the Cosafa Cup.
Sure, South Africa have slightly bounced back from that embarrassing defeat to Sudan after beating Uganda in an international friendly at home last month. But, let’s be honest, they were far from their best, needing substitute Evidence Makgopa to come from behind and win.
I am not saying assistant coaches Cedomir Janevski and Helman Mkhalele, who are expected to lead the fort in the absence of coach Hugo Broos in the Eastern Cape, won’t be able to build on from that win. In fact, they can.
Janevski and Mkhalele, who have already announced their squad for the Cosafa Cup, won’t be afforded a chance to tweak their plans though, given that the SA Under-23 team will probably already be in Tokyo, preparing for the Olympics, by the time Cosafa Cup starts.
A win, regardless of how big or small, has a way of injecting some positivity into the team. But while the national team will be without Kaizer Chiefs players who will be playing in the Caf Champions League final on 17 July, SA will be rooting for both teams to succeed.
It's been a while since SA went into a frenzy. And many will know that is what makes a great footballing nation is when teams do well in continental competitions. And that Bafana's last success at an Afcon was in 1996 doesn't paint a good image about the growth of SA football.
But while they will have to wait until 2023 to qualify for another continental showpiece, the Cosafa Cup should offer them some sort of redemption, especially after their short-comings on the continent.