Bafana Bafana will need to rediscover their killer instinct in front of goal by striking the first blow against Liberia in today’s do-or-die Afcon qualifier clash in hot and humid Monrovia.
Cape Town – Bafana Bafana will need to rediscover their killer instinct in front of goal by striking the first blow against Liberia in today’s do-or-die Afcon qualifier clash in hot and humid Monrovia (kick-off 6pm).
After a delayed 10-hour flight from Johannesburg on a chartered flight, Bafana eventually arrived at Roberts International Airport on Sunday evening. Next followed a two-hour bus trip to the team hotel, which is close to the 22,000-seater match venue at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex.
Following Friday’s dismal performance, which saw them surrender a 2-0 lead, Bafana were left to rue their lack of ruthlessness as they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw. Liberia’s two away goals may be handy if Bafana fails to win in Monrovia.
If South Africa is again miraculously held to a draw, it should be a high-scoring draw, say from 2-2 upwards to keep their qualifying hopes alive. Bafana Bafana, the overwhelming favourites are 67th in the world, while Liberia slot in at 150. On the night, however, those rankings will count for nothing.
Apart from killer instinct, good decision-making, composure and flair in the final third is what will be needed. This must replace poor off-the-ball movement and a lack of imagination in the striking zone.
Coach Hugo Broos shouldn’t make too many changes, this is because the team dominated but simply failed to convert their scoring opportunities.
Mamelodi Sundowns striker Cassius Mailula and Orlando Pirates’ Monnapule Saleng are two players who are enjoying a rich vein of form and they could bring some punch to the attack. The US-based Bongokuhle Hlongwane was full of running on Friday but ineffective.
Saleng seems the better option since Broos has reservations about throwing Mailula in at the deep end. Hlongwane looks like a better option on the bench because he brings an element of physicality which will be needed later in the game should Liberia resort to off-the-ball tactics.
Mailula may come into the reckoning for a midfield slot where he will enjoy more space to play his natural game while he’s also shown that he has a poacher’s instinct in the box. He has fine link-play skills and this could pose problems for Liberia’s defence.
The Portugal-based Sphephelo Sithole is also a midfield option after playing off the bench in Friday’s match.
Broos may also look to tighten the defence, which, apart from Aubrey Modibe, did OK. Innocent Maela may come in at left-back.
It is unlikely to be a matter of choosing the correct personnel because man-for-man all of South Africa’s players were better than their Liberian counterparts.
It is, therefore, likely that the hosts, with their packed-out stadium, will try to turn to contest into a psychological conflict.