Shaun Bartlett discusses tactics with Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

If we had known that Bafana Bafana would score a record six goals once Shaun Bartlett has been part of the coaching team, then he should’ve been there a long time ago!

The South Africans have long been criticised for their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal against ‘smaller teams’ over the years, and it played a big role in them not qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Russia.

Bafana had gone down home and away against the Cape Verde Islands, the weakest team on paper in Group D, whose four goals all came against South Africa, who netted seven times.

The same problem resulted in them missing out on the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations as they drew four out of the six qualifiers, winning just once and losing to lowly Mauritania away.

They drew 0-0 with Gambia and Cameroon in Durban, as well as a 1-1 stalemate with Mauritania in Nelspruit – the other all-square game being the 2-2 result against Cameroon in Limbé.

But it looks like things are changing after Stuart Baxter brought in Bartlett ahead of the past weekend’s Afcon qualifier against Seychelles.

Yes, Seychelles (No 189) are the lowest-ranked team Bafana have ever played, and they are a bunch of part-timers with day jobs.

But six goals were still scored, the most by SA, and Baxter was delighted with Bartlett’s influence on the team.

The former Cape Town Spurs man played club football in England, USA and Switzerland, and is the second-highest Bafana scorer with 28 goals in 74 games, behind Benni McCarthy’s 31 in 80.

“Shaun had a conversation with all strikers in terms of their finishing, and when a top striker like Shaun gives you ideas, that helps,” Baxter said on the Safa website.

“Lebo Mothiba led the lines with his bullish play; the Alan Shearer-type of player. He bullied centre-backs and had no moments of peace. I was pleased with Lebo, his general attitude and work-rate.

“We want more of that, more of that passion, discipline and professionalism. How the players played (on Saturday) was a structured South African way; the moving of the ball and everything.

“In certain areas we have really potential, and if we hit and play more of that, we can play good football and I want more of that.”

Bafana have arrived in Seychelles for the return leg on Tuesday (3.30pm SA time), and will be expecting another goal-fest at Stade Linité.

 

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