Their brains freeze and feet turn to concrete as the team turns an easy situation on paper into a difficult one on the pitch
IF Molefi Ntseki was a superstitious man, he would be worried.
His first match as Bafana Bafana coach didn’t happen because of xenophobic attacks that led to Zambia and then Madagascar pulling out of playing a friendly with South Africa.
As the team prepares for their back-to-back 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, the global outbreak of the Coronavirus has ravaged sport. Tournaments have been cancelled, matches played in empty stadiums and players told not to shake hands in response to the outbreak that has claimed thousands of lives.
But that’s not the disease Ntseki should be worried about the most – he should be worried about an affliction that doesn’t have a name yet.
That disease affects Bafana players’ minds and feet when they face minnows. Their brains freeze and feet turn to concrete as the team turns an easy situation on paper into a difficult one on the pitch. Mauritania, Cape Verde and Seychelles are some of the minnows who surprised Bafana in games they thought they would easily win.
Today Ntseki will announce the squad which will take on Sao Tome at FNB Stadium on March 27 and then travel to Sao Tome for the return leg on the 31st. Bafana have three points from their first two games in a group that also has Ghana and Sudan.
“The preparations are there,” Ntseki said. “We know how we are going to play against Sao Tome home and away. We know the structure, formation and the type of players we will select for those two matches.
“The preparations are going well outside the game itself because you might prepare well and then when you select someone they are injured or aren’t being played by their team, and then it becomes a bit of a challenge for you to bring those players. We believe that we are on the same page of what we want to achieve for the national team.”
This will be Ntseki’s biggest test as most of the challenges that await them in the qualifiers will be tough after Sao Tome.
Ntseki and Safa are also yet to finalise Bafana’s technical team with most serving on an interim basis.
“We currently still have the technical adviser, Trott Moloto, the goalkeeper coach in André Arendse and the assistant coach in Arthur Zwane,” Ntseki said. “But the idea is to beef up and make up a much stronger technical team with technical heads who will always be of help. It’s not easy for you to pick anybody because most of our coaches are attached to their clubs and you cannot take somebody out of their club at the moment.
“But South Africans need to understand that whoever we bring in will be the quality that we are looking for and will be coming in the national team to help.”