Eric Mathoho has taken some of the blame on Bafana's shock loss to Cape Verde. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

PRAIA, Cape Verde – Mulomowandau Mathoho, Bafana Bafana’s villain in Friday night’s 2-1 defeat away to Cape Verde in a crucial Group D qualifier for next year’s World Cup, has owned up to his part in the setback on the road to Russia.

The defender was red-carded for a second time in the space of nine days when he needlessly hacked an opponent in the 68th minute during a period in which coach Stuart Baxter’s men were desperately trying to claw their way back into the game as they were trailing.

The group has now been blown wide open following Cape Verde’s shock win.

“You could say I let the team down, but we didn’t concede even after I was off the pitch,” said the Kaizer Chiefs defender, who was also sent for an early shower seven minutes into his club’s 2-1 loss to SuperSport United in an Absa Premiership clash more than a week earlier.

“I got the ball from Keagan Dolly and I lost possession, then I went shoulder to shoulder with the opponent. My intention was to slide and put the ball out of play, but I really don’t know what happened,” Mathoho explained.

He’s come under scrutiny lately for being out-of-form, and the player did not dispute that he might have been slightly off the pace in recent games.

“You can’t always be at your peak,” he said. “There is a time when, after a game, I know I wasn’t at my best. But I am working hard to get back to my best.

“I had never been sent off in my career until the red card against SuperSport. Obviously I am disappointed.”

When asked for his thoughts on Mathoho’s recklessness in his post-match interview, Baxter said the player had lost his cool at a critical stage in the match.

“Yeah, composure and focus. You can’t switch on and off. Tower has got to learn from this, and hopefully he will. He was very despondent. He feels that he has probably let everybody down.

“He has got to ask himself if he could have done it differently. And the answer he will come to is that yes, he could have.”  

Bafana now host the same Cape Verde side on Tuesday at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.  

IOL Sport

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