Molefi Ntseki has concerns over fitness of Bafana Bafana’s regulars
JOHANNESBURG - Molefi Ntseki must be quaking in his boots, knowing that the performance of the Bafana Bafana squad which he'll announce this morning for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers might make or break his term as the national team coach.
Ntseki was announced as Bafana's commander in chief late in 2019, taking over from Stuart Baxter.
Top of his priority list was to inspire the national team to the continental showpiece and Fifa World Cup.
The Afcon and World Cup will be held next year in Cameroon and Qatar respectively.
Bafana are second in Group C of the Afcon qualifiers with nine points after three wins and one loss, level on points with leaders Ghana after the fourth round of matches.
In their qualifying campaign, Bafana lost their opening match 2-0 away to group favourites Ghana, before sealing a 1-0 win at home against Sudan.
Bafana were rampant against Sao Tome and Principe, hammering them 6-2 on aggregate in back-to-back matches held in South Africa due to “enforced Covid-19 resolutions”.
Bafana, therefore, need at least three points from their last two matches – at home to Ghana on March 25 and away to Sudan three days later – to qualify for the finals. However, that's easier said than done, considering that their opponents also still have a shot at qualifying.
Bafana, moreover, face difficulties with some of their regulars.
Talisman Percy Tau has struggled to get regular game time at English Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion this year.
In Scotland, Rangers FC midfielder Bongani Zungu made the headlines for the wrong reasons recently, breaching Covid-19 restrictions to attend a party with four youngsters.
He recently returned to the match-day squad after apologising.
FC Cincinnati midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo is reportedly still in South Africa, as the American premier division, Major League Soccer, is only set to commence for the new season this month after a four-month hiatus.
Bafana's goalkeeping department is also in a crisis.
Only Ronwen Williams, the No 1 shot-stopper, has played regularly, while the second choice, Darren Keet, is clubless after leaving Belgian outfit OH Leuven last season.
Itumeleng Khune, who was part of the goalkeeping department in the last qualifiers, has had a turbulent outing with Kaizer Chiefs since the start of the season after his numerous blunders cost the team dearly.
The problems do not end there. Some of Bafana's regulars have
suffered injuries, while others have been forced to quarantine for at least two weeks after contracting Covid-19.
Ntseki will hope that over the next four weeks there will be positive changes regarding the personnel he'll call-up this morning, as they prepare for Ghana and Sudan, who could also qualify for Afcon if they finish first and second in the group.
A poor outing could spell the end of Ntseki's career at Bafana.
Already Ntseki has had to deal with the naysayers calling him a “makeshift and cheap option” for the job.