Bafana’s 2021 Afcon mission not impossible after Ghana falter
JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki held court at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium auditorium, saying that finishing top of Group C in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers could be “the best thing to happen to the national team, me and the players”.
In the past two editions of the continental showpiece Bafana were poor. In 2017 they failed to qualify for the finals in Gabon and last year they left it late to book their spot in Egypt, having to defeat Libya in the last round of the qualifiers.
This was mainly due to Bafana’s struggles against the lower ranked nations, although Ntseki appears to have already addressed that glitch after defeating world 182nd ranked Sao Tome and Principe in back-to-back qualifiers.
The 2-0 and 4-2 wins over the islanders ensured that Bafana remained second in Group C with nine points.
Ghana could have qualified on Tuesday night but came unstuck against Sudan in Khartoum where Mohamed Abdelrahman scored in stoppage time for a 1-0 win to put the hosts back in contention for a top two place.
Ghana have nine points and share top spot in Group C with South Africa, while Sudan are only three points behind.
With the penultimate and final round of their qualifiers against Ghana and Sudan in March, Ntseki knows that a win in either game could all but guarantee them a top finish in their group.
“I think the mission will be achieved when we get to 15 points and win the group,” Ntseki explained.
“We still have to play for the six points. Qualifying would be mission accomplished but winning the group could be the best thing ever to happen to the national team – me individually, and the players.”
Bafana face the Black Stars of Ghana at home on March 22 and eight days later they’ll wrap up the qualifiers against Sudan away.
Ntseki, though, is optimistic that by then he’ll have a fully fit squad.
“I hope that everybody will be available and we can have, especially in defence, all the experience so that we can give a good account of ourselves against Ghana” said Ntseki, who lost his first official match to Ghana 2-0 away in the opening round of the qualifiers.
“We know that they are very good offensively but defensively we are a very good team – as long as everybody is available.
“Offensively we are going to cause havoc against Ghana (who are ranked in the top 10 in Africa).”
If South Africa are going to take down Ghana, they’ll know that they cannot afford to start slowly.
Against Sao Tome they were made to chase the game in the first half, only to show their prowess in the last stanza, which worked against the islanders but it won’t against a tough Ghana side.