Bafana Bafana ready to ’raise the bar’ in Cosafa Cup semi-final
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JOAHNNESBURG - BAFANA Bafana caretaker coach Morena Ramoreboli was pleased with his team’s solid defence and lethal attack in the Cosafa Cup group stage, but says “we are raising the bar” when they meet Mozambique in the semi-finals this afternoon.
After off the field hurdles ahead of the Cosafa Cup, notably the absence of coach Helman Mkhalele and goalkeeper coach Lucky Shiburi who were isolated after testing positive for Covid-19, doubts started to creep in over Bafana’s chances in the group stage.
But Bafana, led by Ramoreboli and Vela Khumalo, weathered the storm. They finished at the summit of Group A with 10 points. Their top finish and semi-final spot was sealed with a game to spare. This is after three successive wins over Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho.
In the last group stage match, which served as a dead rubber, they were held to a goalless draw by defending champions Zambia who crashed out of the tournament.
South Africa didn’t concede in the group stage but scored a whopping six goals.
“We started the tournament well. But out of the positive things that we’ve done in the tournament, it is the character that these boys showed. Secondly, we started to see a Bafana team that wins matches under difficult conditions,” Ramoreboli explained.
“You could see individuals raising their hands, saying ‘we’ll fight and die for the country’. You can look at our defence and goalkeeper. Veli Mothwa has been doing very well. We haven’t conceded a goal so far. That’s how solid our defence has been.”
He added: “You go into the midfield; I think we’ve created so many chances through our combination play which is the South African way of playing. Up front, we have very good and competitive players. I believe that we are raising the bar for the semis.”
Bafana’s character will be tested in the semi-finals. Despite the Mozambicans not being as smooth as Bafana were in the group stage, after winning two games, drawing one and losing one, they pose a real threat in the knockout stage. But Bafana will up the tempo.
“What we need to do now, without being arrogant, is to go out and dominate every game that we play because we are going to the knockout stage of the tournament. It’s crunch time and we need to fight with everything that we have,” Ramoreboli said.
“Before the tournament started, we did what we call budgeting. What do we want to do? How many points do we want to accumulate? All those things we did in preparation for the stage that we are going to. They know that we are raising the bar.”
After fielding a makeshift team in their last game against Chipolopolo, Bafana are expected to bring out their strong guns against Mozambique. Mothwa and the hattrick hero against Lesotho, Victor Letsoalo, are expected to start today.
“We’ve been doing analysis on Mozambique and Senegal. They are very tight opponents but we need to be ready for the challenge and be above them. That is what will win us the match. We need to be arrogant when we play, especially at home,” Ramoreboli said.