Bafana’s road to the continental showpiece will likely endure some potholes along the way, should they continue to fail to bury the opportunities from the outset.
JOHANNESBURG – Bafana Bafana’s pursuit of being a well-oiled machine remains far from being a finished product after they were beaten 2-1 by Cosafa rivals Zambia in an international friendly match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Sunday.
The recent international friendly matches between Namibia and Zambia were supposed to put Bafana up to speed as they are preparing for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe next month.
But it appears Bafana’s road to the continental showpiece will likely endure some potholes along the way, should they continue to fail to bury the opportunities from the outset, considering that they are yet to win a match in almost a year.
On Thursday, they drew 1-1 with Cosafa rivals Namibia in their first international friendly match. And on the back of that underwhelming result, they were expected to come out guns blazing against Zambia considering that coach Molefi Ntseki had a fully-fledged squad.
However, the return of experienced campaigners such as captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, Percy Tau, Andile Jali and goalkeeper Darren Keet – who were rested against Nambia – didn’t provide the much-needed oomph for the national team.
Instead, Zambia were unfortunate after the two teams went into the interval deadlocked. South Africa tested the waters earlier on with Thabiso Kutumela, who made a starting debut, unleashing a close-range curler.
But the Maritzburg United striker was unfortunate as his effort was wide off target. Zambia, though, were triggered by Bafana’s start as they retaliated with forays that appeared goal-bound into Bafana’s final third.
Ntseki’s charges held firm with some solid defence from Motjeka Madisha or the woodwork. Madisha cleared a Zambia goal-bound effort from the goal-line.
However, Zambian striker Lubambo Musonda had the clearest of chances to put his team ahead but his close-range grasscutter rattled against the upright as Bafana regrouped to keep themselves in the game in the first half.
Meanwhile, Tau continued to prove why he’s Bafana’s best man at the moment. In the first half, he was unlucky not to score after his curling effort from close-range was acrobatically saved by goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange.
But how about the weighted control and timed pass to Keagan Dolly for Bafana’s opener in the second half? The Anderlecht RSC attacker delivered a defence-splitting pass to Dolly whose first touch beat Mwange before slotting the ball into an empty net.
Well, Tau may have only got an assistant for his efforts but his inch of skill and inroads into Zambia’s final third should be enough to satisfy the former Mamelodi Sundowns attacker who’ll be hoping to continue with the momentum at club level.
But nonetheless, at the end, there was something to smile about for Zambia’s coach Micho Sredejovic upon his return to South Africa, having left Orlando Pirates last year in August to join Egyptian giants Zamalek and then later on surfacing at Chipolopolo.
The Zambians wrapped up the match after Kelvin Kampamba unleashed a curling effort into the bottom corner having skinned his marker, before Charles Zulu scored the winning goal from close range after Bafana’s defence was caught napping.