SA has no choice but to beat Ghana, says Bafana coach
It’s almost been 17 years since Bafana qualified for the global showpiece via a successful qualification process, having competed in the 2010 spectacle as hosts.
Since then, though, two additional World Cup tournaments - in Brazil and Russia - have come and gone with Bafana failing to book their ticket to either event under Steve Komphela, Pitso Mosimane and Gordon Igesund in 2014 and Stuart Baxter in 2018.
But following the resignation of the latter, Ntseki, who had assisted a number of his predecessors, took over the reins, and he is now faced with the mammoth task of guiding the national team back to the World Cup.
However to achieve this they will have to finish top of Group F, where they are grouped alongside Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Ghana in the penultimate round of the qualifiers.
From then on, they’ll compete to be among the five nations that will be Africa's flag bearers in this year's Fifa World Cup to be staged in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.
There’s no doubt that Ghana's Black Stars, ranked sixth in Africa and 47th in the world, will be Bafana’s toughest opposition from the group.
And in the bigger scheme of things, the two teams will play each other in the qualifiers for a major event on four occasions as they are already in the same group for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers (Afcon), where there’s also Sao Tome and Principe and Sudan.
“We went to the draw expecting to draw a top 40 or top 10 team, and we got Ghana, whom we have to play against in a round robin format that sees us playing them four times (with three matches remaining after Bafana lost 2-0 to the West Africans in the first Afcon qualifier),” Ntseki said.
“The remaining matches will be tough because we have to plan well for each and every game. Ghana being ranked sixth in Africa, we are fully aware that to qualify for the World Cup, we have to beat the best.”
Ntseki, however, also knows only too well it would be naïve to overlook the threats also posed by The Warriors and the Walias.
The Zimbabweans have most of their internationals plying their trade in the PSL, while Ethiopia were the same opposition that denied South Africa their ticket to the 2014 global showpiece after finishing top of the group in the second round of the penultimate round of the qualifiers.
Meanwhile, with the Afcon qualifiers set to conclude in August before the World Cup qualifiers get underway in October, Ntseki says assembling the best team for the continental qualifiers will set a good foundation for their aspirations going forward.
“I just hope our players are all injury free because we need them all for the games against Sao Tome, Ghana and Sudan (in the Afcon qualifiers). We can have the best team if we have the best players available."
Independent on Saturday