Bafana Bafana’s Mothobi Mvala is challenged by Zimbabwe’s Khama Billiat during their World Cup qualifier. Picture: Liberty Mugari/BackpagePix
Bafana Bafana’s Mothobi Mvala is challenged by Zimbabwe’s Khama Billiat during their World Cup qualifier. Picture: Liberty Mugari/BackpagePix

Big test for Hugo Broos’s ambitious ‘fancy football’ when Bafana face Ghana

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Sep 5, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is an admirer of fancy football. But that his team created few scoring chances in their opening game of the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Zimbabwe means that it might be a while before his philosophy is grasped.

South Africa had a lively start against The Warriors as they were eager to exploit pockets of spaces. But their first real chance at goal came from a corner kick which striker Evidence Makgopa unceremoniously headed over the crossbar.

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Soon thereafter, Teboho Mokoena saw his thunderbolt parried over the crossbar by Talbert Shumba. Bafana, though, got better as the game progressed and Shumba made another save from open play in the second half.

With ball players such as Percy Tau, Luther Singh and Gift Links in the starting line-up, Bafana were expected to penetrate Zimbabwe’s defence like a hot knife through butter. But supply was short from the midfield, forcing Tau to track back.

On another day, Tau would come out tops in dribbling his way past defenders and setting up teammates up front. But that he’s match unfit meant that the new Al Ahly midfielder battled with pace, while his passing accuracy was not sharp either.

Tau couldn’t have been expected to carry the scoring baggage alone. Links and Singh were supposed to assist him and the duo were just not in it. They gave little to the team going forward. That lacklustre performance meant there was more work for their midfielders.

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According to Broos's post-match reaction, Mokoena and Mothobi Mvala were Bafana’s best players on the park in Harare. So, perhaps, could it be that Bafana lacked supply up front due to the fact that the duo was covering for their defence?

It seemed like it – especially in the first half. The Zimbabwean striking contingent were proving to be a handful for Bafana’s defence. Nyiko Mobbie was played out of position as a left back, while Thapelo Morena was explosive in attack but blunt in turnovers.

Siyanda Xulu, though, was a cornerstone for Bafana’s defence, shielding the ever-improving Rushine De Reuck. Ronwen Williams, the captain, will be happy with the clean sheet, but he’ll know, just like Broos, that they need to start scoring goals.

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On Monday, Bafana will host Ghana at the FNB Stadium, needing nothing less than a win if they are going to set a tone about their aspirations in the qualifiers. But that won’t be easy, considering that Ghana are high on confidence after beating Ethiopia 1-0.

The last time Ghana visited Bafana in March, in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the teams drew 1-1. Bafana were fortunate to get that point, considering that they never came out to play, and relied on counter-attacks.

Broos has made it clear that won’t be his style of play, although they’d use it sometimes. He prefers “fancy football”. Playing against the Ayew brothers, Jordan and Andre, one would hope that Bafana will be motivated and be at their best out at The Calabash.

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The Ayews have been playing at the highest level in Europe for some time, with their vast experience becoming a bargaining chip for Ghana. They are quick, deadly and skilful like our forwards. But it’s not that they cannot be knocked off their perch as well.

While Bafana are an average outfit, whatever they lacked against Zimbabwe, especially in terms of creating scoring opportunities, can still be fixed. Broos has said he is rebuilding the team from scratch, so tomorrow night will be another opportunity to lay a solid foundation.

@Mihlalibaleka

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