Molefi Ntseki will be looking to get his first competitive game off to a good start. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Molefi Ntseki avoided the question at first, saying a lot without saying anything. But when the Bafana Bafana coach was pushed on what his personal targets with the team are, he went for a grand target, with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

“Molefi Ntseki’s target is to ...” Ntseki said, followed by a long pause, “win the World Cup.”

Ntseki was obviously being humorous, but he said it with a straight face that made it seem plausible.

The World Cup might be a bridge too far for Bafana, but Ntseki has what it takes to guide the team to the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Cameroon in 2021 and Qatar the next year for the World Cup. Those are his main targets that were set by the South African Football Association (Safa). But his targets included playing a key role in the development of South African football in the country.

“It is a very personal question that needs to be addressed cautiously,” Ntseki said. “Getting a contract with Safa, there are already targets and mandates that are contained in the contract. The contract says that you must qualify for the Afcon, not only qualify at the Afcon but do well there - take us to the last eight, last four and make us champions. We are up for it. It’s a very healthy challenge because as an individual you would be happy if you achieved so much in a tournament like the Afcon. And then you have the World Cup qualifiers. We haven’t qualified for the World Cup for so many years.”

Ntseki continued: “If you break that drought of qualifying, it would be great for the country, Bafana Bafana, let alone Molefi Ntseki and the players. Everybody wants to be in the World Cup. The atmosphere in the World Cup is something else. I should be able to look back as a Bafana Bafana coach and say that I have achieved so much, and I have left a very big mark in terms of the success story of a South African coach. But the most important thing is the type of players that you will be bringing into the team, who will end up becoming superstars and playing a brand of football that everyone will be happy with.”

Ntseki’s first major assignment is a trip to Accra to take on Ghana in their own backyard on November 14 in the first match of their 2021 Afcon qualifiers. Three days later they will host Sudan at Orlando Stadium. Sao Tome and Principe complete the group. Ntseki has to hit the ground running to prove that he is the right man to replace Stuart Baxter who took the team to the quarter-finals of the Afcon in Egypt. Ntseki challenged the players to raise their game.

“If you look at the class of 1996, and you try to find out what made them tick and what made things happen for them. It was because of the hunger and confidence that they had,” Ntseki said. “They wanted to do well so that they can get better contracts whether locally or overseas. Currently we have a situation where players are comfortable to stay in the country because of maybe the league has improved financially and tactically speaking. We need to have players who are hungry, want to achieve more and want to be the best in the world, not just in South Africa.”

Squad

Goalkeepers

Darren Keet, Ronwen Williams and Ricardo Goss

Defenders

Erick Mathoho, Sifiso Hlanti, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Thapelo Morena, Thamsanqa Mkhize, Innocent Maela and Mosa Lebusa

Midfielders

Kamohelo Mokotjo, Bongani Zungu, Thato Mokeke, Dean Furman, Lebohang Phiri, Mothobi Mvala, Thamba Zwane, Thembinkosi Lorch, Percy Tau, Thulani Serero and Aubrey Modiba

Strikers

Lebo Mothiba, Bradley Grobler and Kermit Erasmus

Bonginkosi Ndadane