Helman trying to get Bafana firing again

Bafana Bafana’s Thabang Sibanyoni is challenged by Atamelang Lesogo of Botswana during their Cosafa Cup clash this past weekend. | BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana’s Thabang Sibanyoni is challenged by Atamelang Lesogo of Botswana during their Cosafa Cup clash this past weekend. | BackpagePix

Published Jul 1, 2024


Smiso Msomi

Bafana Bafana stand-in head coach Helman Mkhalele is bemused by his side’s lack of creativity, after their goalless draw against Botswana in the Cosafa Cup.

For the second game running the home side failed to collect all three points in the group stages of the competition. They have left it to the last game against Eswatini to ensure their place in the knockout rounds.

In what has been a low-scoring group, with three goalless draws in four matches, Bafana have found it hard to get the players to gel. However, it has to be noted that these ‘fringe’ players of the national team are about to complete just two weeks in camp having been called from their off-season break.

Bafana dominated the majority of the proceedings against Botswana, similar to how things went in their first match against Mozambique.

SuperSport United Striker Thabang Sibanyoni and his teammates did not trouble the Zebras enough to warrant any breakthrough in the course of the 90 minutes as they registered nine goal attempts, with just one on target. And even with five substitutions made in the second half, Bafana were not able to grab a morale-boosting win and take full control of the group.

Mkhalele cut a very frustrated figure in the post-match media conference at the Wolfson Stadium in Gqebera and expressed his displeasure at how his team carried themselves on the pitch on the day.

He lamented the passive nature of his players and felt they lacked that valuable cutting edge.

“We were not in command of the ball, especially in the final third. We looked like we didn’t have the confidence. But again, we were not giving the early support or were unable to read the game to support Thabang Sibanyoni, who was dominating the aerial balls,” he said.

“We lacked that confidence. Yes, we did get those half-chances but we were not taking them or we were not approaching them with aggression.

“We were just more comfortable in dominating the possession in our own half. But we lacked the speed and the penetration through the middle.”

Mkhalele has a tricky task on his hands as he looks to somehow manufacture a plan to reinvent his side in time to face neighbours Eswatini next. The 54-year-old tactician revealed that he felt would need to focus more on the psychological well-being of his players.

“We have to work more on the mental state this time around. The most work that we will be doing has a lot to do with confidence,” he said.

“Because I know now as a player, you’re starting to doubt yourself, (thinking) about maybe you’ve let the team down or you didn’t score, and it’s my duty now to come in and uplift that confidence.”

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