Saifeldin Bakhit of Sudan scores during the 2021 Africa Cup of against Bafana. Photo: BackpagePix
Saifeldin Bakhit of Sudan scores during the 2021 Africa Cup of against Bafana. Photo: BackpagePix

You can’t always blame the coach, Bafana players must also take responsibility for Afcon failure, says Neil Tovey

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Mar 31, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Former Safa technical director Neil Tovey says Bafana Bafana's players should also take blame for their shortcomings after they failed to qualify for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

After decent results in the first five qualifiers where they won three matches, drew one and lost one, Bafana fell at the final hurdle losing away to Sudan. That defeat ensured they ended up with only nine points in Group C where they finished third.

Much of the blame has been pinned on the shoulders of coach Molefi Ntseki who owned up, saying that: “I failed the nation as the coach." But Tovey, who served as Safa technical director between 2015-2020, says players also need to take responsibility for the disappointing outcome.

“The players have to come to the party. You cannot always blame the coach,” Tovey told Independent Media yesterday. “The players have to take some responsibility, knuckle down and get the job done. Afcon is huge for them to participate in.”

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Having missed out on one of the two major tournaments next year, Bafana will be hoping to make amends by qualifying for the World Cup. But that's easier said than done. They are in Group G where they will face Ghana, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.

From the 10 groups, only the top finishers will progress to the next and final round of qualifiers. This is where only the five teams that win their matches will qualify for the global showpiece next year in Qatar.

The South Africans will need to dig deep, given that they failed to qualify for the last two editions of the World Cup in Brazil and Russia. The last time Bafana qualified for the global tournament was back in 2010 when they were hosts.

ALSO READ: Molefi Ntseki: I have failed as Bafana Bafana coach

Tovey who remains the only Bafana captain to hoist the Afcon trophy after that successful outing 25 years ago, believes that the national team should always ensure that they win their home matches if they are to have a shot at qualifying for major tournaments.

“We're going to have to make sure that we win all of our home matches,” Tovey said. “If we can do that, that would be a big platform and developing stage when we want to qualify for a major tournament. If we win our home games we are in the right direction.

“In the past couple of years we've done well at home and we've got to make that a fortress once again. I don't know, but to put a finger on one thing would be difficult. We just need to win all our home games.”

Bafana's failure to qualify for Afcon is not only a disappointment to the nation but to the continent at large, given that the president of Caf is South African billionaire and football administrator Patrice Motsepe.

“It is disappointing, sure. We need to qualify for all major tournaments to prove that we are a leading footballing nation on the continent. But the players need to take some responsibility. To concede a goal in the opening three minutes was not a good sight,” Tovey said.

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