Home Sport Morocco defeat shows Bafana need to improve defence

Morocco defeat shows Bafana need to improve defence

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Ronwen Williams couldn’t do it alone in the second half. And so, when Yousseff En-Nesyri finally beat him after their battle in the first half, before Ayoub El Kaabi volleyed the winner, it was not a surprise.

Percy Tau of South Africa on the attack during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying football match against Morocco at the Stade Prince Moulay Abdallah in Rabat, Morocco on 9 June 2022. Picture: Nour Akanja, BackpagePix

Johannesburg – On the stroke of half-time, a dejected Achraf Hakimi, Morocco’s best player of the half, hopped towards Bafana Bafana’s goalpost to give their goalkeeper and captain Ronwen Williams a high-five.

Williams had put in a master-class act since the start, proving to be the difference between the hosts finding an equaliser by the break after Lyle Foster had put them ahead with a clinical finish.

But Williams couldn’t do it alone in the second half. And so, when Yousseff En-Nesyri finally beat him after their battle in the first half, before Ayoub El Kaabi volleyed the winner, it was not a surprise.

Sure, hearts were broken as a draw would have given Bafana a poor start in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers’ away to the highly-ranked Morocco, but Williams was the hero, yet again. A familiar sight.

So, that a goalkeeper, who albeit being on the losing end, gets to be lauded proves just how porous Bafana’s defence is. Lyle Lakay was the main culprit of the night as he was slow and out of position.

That was a poor and embarrassing outing from the DStv Premiership Defender of the Season. Take nothing away from Hakimi, he’s one of the world’s best, but Lakay should have done better.

As a wide player, Lakay had to be there when required, so that there’d be no need for centre-back, Thibang Pete, who’s a right footer by the way, to always cover for him against the run of play.

All eyes were on Al Ahly’s Percy Tau to churn out the goods upfront as he had played in Casablanca, which is a stone’s throw away from Rabat in the Caf Champions League final, just a fortnight ago.

Tau huffed and puffed as he also collected balls from the midfield due to lack of supply, but he couldn’t bring the house down, instead a new Bafana stalwart was born in front of the Moroccan ultras.

Sphephelo Sithole was on everyone’s lips by the final whistle. He set-up Foster’s opener with a perfect weighted pass early on and he commanded the midfield from start to finish.

The defensive kingpin broke up play and contributed in the build-up as well. Plying his trade at Belenenses SAD, Portugal, Sithole fitted like a glove in the national team in his debut match.

So much so that his solid performance has seen many going back on their word, insisting that there’s no need for Andile Jali in the Bafana set-up anymore as they had found his replacement in Sithole.

Broos’ trust in his usual guns such as Yusuf Maart who came in as a substitute in the second, proved to be costly as the Sekhukhune United captain gave away the ball that led to the winner later on.

However, it is mistakes like that that will toughen up Maart, and unite the team to fight for each other. Behind him there were still tons of Bafana shirts who could have closed down El Kaabi as well.

There were a lot of positives and negatives for Bafana in Rabat. But they can’t overly rely on Williams match in and match out. Games are not won by saving goals, instead by the number of goals scored.

They should head into the next qualifiers against Liberia knowing very well that nothing less than a will will not be good enough. A feat that can cost their ticket to the Ivory Coast next year.

@Mihlalibaleka

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