CAPE TOWN – Surely Bafana Bafana couldn’t blow this one…
Having just thrashed Seychelles 6-0 at the FNB Stadium, even the most cynical South African fan had to think that the return leg of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Victoria on Tuesday would be a walk in the park.
Captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and his team were up against a bunch of amateur footballers who had day jobs, and some of whom weren’t in the best shape physically.
Yet the unthinkable happened – a 0-0 draw at the Stade Linité, which has now resulted in a treacherous path to qualifying for Cameroon 2019, as they have trail Nigeria by a point and have to still face the Super Eagles in South Africa, and Libya away.
So, what went wrong for Stuart Baxter’s team?
1 Beach Boyz
That was the term Itumeleng Khune used to describe himself, Siyanda Xulu, Darren Keet, Sifiso Hlanti, Dino Ndlovu and Dean Furman as the Bafana squad relaxed in the water following their five-hour flight from Johannesburg.
Normally there would be nothing wrong with that, but posting it on social media just gave the impression that Bafana were taking it easy after the 6-0 win.
And now, considering the draw, perhaps they did take Seychelles too lightly…
2 Didn’t heed Stuart Baxter’s warning
The Bafana Bafana coach told his players not to get “carried away” after the 6-0 result, adding that “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”. The cryptic words “they would think they have a chance if they sit back in the opening minutes and frustrate us” came back to haunt his team, as that is exactly what happened.
Bafana were unable to get the early breakthrough, missing a number of chances to score, and the frustration continued right to the end of the 90 minutes.
3 Changing the starting XI
Why would you change a winning team? Well, that is what Baxter did, and it affected the balance of the XI.
Aubrey Modiba provided the width on the left-hand side at FNB Stadium, along with Sifiso Hlanti.
But Modiba was moved to the bench for the away game, with the more direct Dino Ndlovu coming in. Ndlovu was almost like a second striker with Lebo Mothiba, and there weren’t enough crosses coming into the box.
One change in Bafana starting XI against Seychelles on Tuesday, 16 October 2018:
Itumeleng Khune (G)
Thulani Hlatshwayo (C)
Lebo Mothiba pic.twitter.com/nU0nJe6Q75
4 What were the tactics to score?
It seemed like Bafana just wanted to walk the ball into the net. There appeared to be little of the “structure” that Baxter had pinpointed as the key ingredient in the 6-0 victory.
Everybody tried to be the “hero” by taking shots at goal, instead of working together as a team and devising a clear strategy to break down a stubborn Seychelles defence.
And so few of those shots were on target…
5 No Plan B
The tactics above clearly weren’t working. Why not try something different in the chase for a goal? The situation demanded something dramatic in those frantic closing minutes – perhaps pushing Hlatshwayo into the box with his physical presence.
He scored a well-taken header in Johannesburg, and could’ve done something similar in Victoria, especially with Seychelles not offering much of a threat in attack.