Home Sport Bafana Bafana’s strikeforce needs to step up

Bafana Bafana’s strikeforce needs to step up

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Bafana will have to get off to a good start in Durban and Butare in Rwanda’s south, as that will help them to win and prepare well for the Afcon finals in Ivory Coast in January as well.

Percy Tau of South Africa during the International Friendly match against DR Congo on September 12 2023 at Orlando Stadium in Soweto. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos is confident that they can start the 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers with a bang if they draw lessons from their recent top performances.

South Africa will start their bid to qualify for the global event in Canada, Mexico, and the US with matches at home to Benin on Saturday and away to Rwanda on Tuesday.

And considering that they are ranked higher (64th) than both Benin (93rd) and Rwanda (142nd) in the world, they are expected to bag three points from both matches on paper. But Bafana’s performances against lower ranked teams have been unconvincing in recent months. They’ve struggled to put them to the sword, having to settle instead for dull draws.

However, they’ve been menacing against some mighty teams in Africa. They beat the No.1-ranked nation, Morocco, at home, before drawing with Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast away.

With the World Cup qualifiers must-win matches for Bafana after their last-minute failure to qualify for the 2022 edition in Qatar, Broos believes they know what’s at stake.

“We have to be confident (that we’ll win both matches) because of the performances we had in the last two years,” Broos said in his pre-match media briefing on Monday.

“The performances against Morocco, Liberia and against Ivory Coast must give us confidence. Maybe it was a good thing we didn’t play well against Namibia and Eswatini then.

“I think the players know that even if you play against Ivory Coast or Eswatini, you need to focus, concentrate and have a good mentality.”

Bafana will have to get off to a good start in Durban and Butare in Rwanda’s south, as that will help them to win and prepare well for the Afcon finals in Ivory Coast in January as well.

“You can avoid problems if you start the game the way we did against Morocco, Ivory Coast and Liberia away – with a good focus and mentality,” Broos said.

“You’ll avoid the problems we had against Namibia and Eswatini. I am confident that we can make two victories from both matches, but we must fight.”

Bafana’s quest to win both qualifiers is set to be boosted after Broos confirmed that all 23 players are available, with Thapelo Maseko and Grant Kekana set to undergo late fitness tests.

The pair joined the camp on Monday carrying knocks from Mamelodi Sundowns’ triumph in the African Football League after beating Wydad Casablanca on Sunday. With Maseko having been the top goalscorer in the AFL, his services could come in handy for Bafana – perhaps that’s why Broos is contemplating keeping him in the squad even if he’s not fully fit.

Should push come to shove, other players such as Themba Zwane and Percy Tau must take on the scoring responsibilities, especially with Lyle Foster also out of the team. But while goals could come in handy in the qualifiers, Broos wants his team to focus first on winning games.

“The goal difference is important; we know it from the last qualifiers. But I don’t think we can start the game thinking of scoring as much as possible,” Broos said.

“Yes, we must score as much as possible. If we can win 3-0, it’s better than 2-1. But the main goal must be to win the game – you can win twice and get six points.

“And then what the other teams do, that’s their problem. Maybe then some of your opponents will be behind and they’ll have to play the next games under pressure.”

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