CAPE TOWN - Let’s do this properly: before weighing into any criticism of yet another disappointing Bafana Bafana performance, it’s important to reflect on the quality of the opposition.
After the SA national football team played to a goalless draw with Libya in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon, I have to admit I was astonished by the level of skill and ability, and technical and tactical nous of the North Africans.
Now, let’s focus on the South Africans. Yes, they haven’t been in action for a while, but that is no excuse for the uninspiring fare they dished up. For an experienced group of players, the manner in which the team defended bordered on the criminal. Libya were able to pour through the midfield and get behind the defence on many occasions. The defensive organisation was shoddy, defenders lacked focus, they gave the ball away far too easily, and, overall, it just looked a complete mess.
Things changed a little in the second half as there was a more balanced look to the Bafana shape and structure. But, as an attacking force, there was still nothing much to celebrate: there was little creativity, the build-ups were ponderous and devoid of any initiative - and there was just no urgency in their approach.
For an already beleaguered Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter, the alarm bells will now be rather strident. Much of what went wrong with the team on Saturday are coaching and motivational issues - and that, after all, is what he gets paid the big bucks for.
Baxter’s strength as a coach is his ability to get teams to be defensively astute and then be predatory and clinical on the transition; we aren’t seeing this with Bafana. So the question is: does he have the right personnel? Is he looking in the right places, at the right teams, for the right players, in order to have the right squad to take Bafana to Cameroon 2019?