Bafana open World Cup qualifying campaign with snore-fest draw against Zimbabwe
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JOHANNESBURG – Hugo Broos’ tenure as Bafana Bafana coach began on a mild note as they were held to a goalless draw by neighbours Zimbabwe in the opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers at the National Sport Stadium in Harare on Friday afternoon.
It’s been more than a decade since Bafana played in the global showpiece, having achieved that feat as hosts in 2010. And their recent misfortune was their inability to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations under former coach Molefi Ntseki.
The South African Football Association, though, have since rang the changes, appointing Broos, who’s keen to work with youngsters, as the new coach. But the Belgian started his tenure in a bid to qualify for a major tournament with a draw.
Bafana played in patches, almost being their worst enemy after failing to find Percy Tau, who was appointed as the new vice-captain to captain Ronwen Williams, and the fellow striking contingent as the two team’s failed to find the breakthrough up front.
Bafana, though, will take some positives from this game, heading to their next qualifier against Ghana at home on Monday. They finished the game on a high note, after having a few shots on target early and late in the second half.
After missing out on Bafana’s triumph against Uganda in an international friendly and in the Cosafa Cup, Broos took charge of his first game as the new national team coach. But his job was not going to be easy, given that a lot is at stake for the team.
Broos wants to rebuild the team after their recent slump, which includes failing to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, but he can’t ignore the fact that they need to have a winning mentality. And that’s why the Belgian, probably, opted for an attacking approach.
Evidence Makgopa, the DStv Premiership’s young player of the season, had Bafana’s first chance of the game after he connected well with a Gift Links cross, but unfortunately, he put his header over the crossbar as the home side’s defence regrouped.
But it was midfielder Teboho Mokoena who had Bafana’s first shot on target. Mokoena, created acres of space for himself outside the penalty area, before unleashing a thunderbolt that forced goalkeeper Talbert Shumba to pull off a high-flying save.
The Zimbabweans didn’t drop their heads, instead they gained momentum as they fought for balls. Khama Billiat was the first player to test the waters for the Zimbabweans but he put his long-range effort wide of goal as Bafana breathed a sigh of relief.
The Warriors, though, didn’t stop there as they continued to knock on Bafana door with long range shots. But that didn’t help their cause as Bafana stood their ground, ensuring that the two teams went into the break still tied on a 0-0 stalemate.
Although Zimbabwe started the second half well, it was Bafana who finished as the better side. Substitute Bongokuhle Hlongwane saw his hard and low effort cleared off the line after Shumba had initially made a save, attempting to parry the shot away.
Before being subbed off, though, Tau also had a shot on target but that didn’t bear any fruits as Shumba made the save before his defence regrouped. Bafana will turn their focus to Ghana, a side they’ll welcome to the FNB Stadium on Monday.