JOHANNESBURG – Bafana Bafana gave a much more polished and professional display in their 6-0 win on Saturday over Seychelles, a team of part-timers and one ranked 189 by Fifa.
This result officially became South Africa’s record win, overtaking the 5-0 victory against Guatemala eight years ago in a pre-World Cup friendly match in Polokwane, although it was later found that that game had been successfully targeted by match-fixers.
The crowd was a bit on edge in the opening minutes, knowing the national team’s history against the continents’ minnows.
A classic example of a below par performance had been in the previous 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier when Libya were in town – forcing Stuart Baxter’s men to a dull goalless draw in Durban last month.
You can’t blame the naysayers for having written Bafana off in the build-up to this qualifier, even though there was still the expectation that lowly Seychelles should be blown to smithereens.
Such was the tightness in the opening moments that the visitors were the ones who broke the deadlock, but the ball went into the wrong net.
Defender Nigel Nigel failed to clear captain Thulani Hlatshwayo’s headed ball in the penalty box, instead beating his own goalkeeper when he desperately tried to guide the ball to safely.
Almost immediately the floodgates opened, with Bafana scoring two more before halftime through Hlatshwayo and striker Lebo Mothiba.
The worry had been whether Baxter would get his players’ mentality right for this qualifier at Soccer City and the return leg in Victoria on Tuesday afternoon.
The goals are proof that this was addressed, and to hit Seychelles for six is exactly what this team needed.
It was unforgivable to share the spoils with Libya, allowing them to ascend to the top of Group E on the road to Cameroon for the Afcon next year.
Bafana have now managed seven points in three qualifiers so far, and much of the same will be expected in the away match.
It’s their ruthlessness that was convincing, but it is important to maintain this ethos even against Nigeria next month and when Bafana face Libya away in March next year.
Bafana should be through to the Afcon if they beat Seychelles at the Stade Lineté in the coming days.
Percy Tau, Dino Ndlovu and Teboho Mokoena, on debut for Bafana, added to the three goals scored in the first half in the second stanza, and with that giving Baxter – and South Africa – their biggest ever win.