JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana's biggest weakness could be their trump card in their World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso as the visitors don’t know which side will turn up at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
The Stallions faced a formidable Bafana in Ouagadougou in their opening match of the qualifiers and werelucky to salvage a point even though they missed a number of chances including a penalty.
That same Bafana stunned Nigeria in Uyo in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, beating the Super Eagles for the first time in a competitive match. But a timid Bafana showed up and lost the back-to-back clashes against Cape Verde to be in serious danger of missing out on Russia 2018.
"The (South African) team that played against us was a strong team,” Burkina Faso’s midfielder, Bertrand Traore said. “They had the most possession and they dominated the game. It was quite difficult for us. I was surprised to see them dropping points against Cape Verde. It’s strange. I don’t know what happened.
"But that’s good for us, because we also didn’t take as many points as we should have from Senegal. We are still in the run(ning) to qualify for the World Cup. We have to focus on the job at hand. I hope they play like they did against Cape Verde. That would be good for us.”
Figuring which Bafana will show up is one of the many problems Traore and company have. The other is that their fate in booking a ticket to Russia next year is no longer fully in their hands after Fifa ordered Bafana’s 2-1 win over Senegal to be replayed because match-fixing syndicates influenced the outcome through Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey. Traore’s gripe with that decision isn’t so much the replay itself but the timing of the announcement.
“For me, it’s not fair,” Traore said. “They could have taken this decision before our games against Senegal. But they took the decision after our games against Senegal, costing us the advantage that we had and giving Senegal a good chance to qualify.
"It’s unfair. But we have to accept it. It’s Fifa. We have to deal with it and move on. To an extent, we still have our destiny in our own hands. We have to do what we can do, win our remaining two matches.”
The Stallions arrived in the country without their injured talisman Jonathan Pitroipa and will therefore look to Traore for inspiration. The 22-year-old has experienced his fair share of disappointments with club and country.
He was part of the Ajax Amsterdam team that lost in the Uefa Europa League final in May. He suffered two heartbreaks with the national team, seeing them lose to Nigeria in the final of the 2013 Afcon at FNB Stadium and losing to Algeria in the final round of the World Cup qualifiers on the away goal rule. That last disappointment drives Traore.
“It’s a dream for all of us to go to the World Cup,” Traore said. “Burkina Faso have never played in a World Cup. We were nearly there in 2014. We failed in the last game. We have a chance to make amends for that so we have to take it.”