Bafana Bafana were expected to secure all six points from their clashes with the Lone Stars. With good reason too, for the two countries have arguably some of the best football resources in Africa.
Johannesburg – It would not be a Bafana Bafana qualification campaign without the drama, would it? Such is the South African senior national football team’s propensity to give the public heart palpitations.
Their qualification for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast was supposed to have been an easy affair, Bafana tipped to cruise from Group K qualification along with Morocco at the expense of Liberia.
The route was fairly simple really, beat Liberia at home and then go get a point in the return leg.
But no, they had to keep us on tenterhooks first – coach Hugo Broos and his team opting to go the difficult route of having to win in Monrovia after giving away certain victory on home soil.
And even when they reigned victorious at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex on Tuesday, Bafana did so after getting us on the edge of our seats by giving away the lead before winning 2-1.
The fear that Liberia could steal a point in the same way they did in the 2-2 draw at Orlando Stadium last Friday made for a nail-biting experience of an encounter that should have been merely academic.
Admittedly, nothing can be taken for granted at the international level of the game.
But Liberia should never have had a look-in – such is their lowly status in world football compared to that of Bafana.
Ranked a massive 86 places below SA by Fifa, George Weah’s countrymen were rightly installed as the group’s whipping boys when the draw was made. And when Zimbabwe were kicked out of the group following their football association’s suspension, Morocco and Bafana were expected to secure all six points from their clashes with the Lone Stars.
With good reason too, for the two countries have arguably some of the best football resources in Africa.
Ours is arguably one of the richest leagues on the continent and even what are supposedly the poorest stadiums in SA, would pass for super venues elsewhere in Africa. Our local players are among the best looked after in Africa and the overseas-based ones are in top leagues, when compared to where the Liberians play.
Incredibly though, this does not always show when Bafana plays.
Last Friday for example, Broos’ starting line-up boasted no less than six players from the all-conquering Mamelodi Sundowns outfit that have already booked their place in the Caf Champions League quarter-finals.
With a team like that, Bafana were meant to make easy work of Liberia. And they appeared to be doing so as they raced into a 2-0 lead . They should actually have killed the match off before halftime, as they created enough chances to lead 5-0.
They did not, and with Broos making numerous changes after the break, Bafana let slip a victory and ended up sharing the spoils. It was typical of SA who seem to not know – even at club level – how to thump an opponent.
The result was that SA had to go to Monrovia under pressure to win.
Granted they did, but the manner of it was not the kind that would send any of the nations who will draw Bafana for the group stages of Afcon 2023 quaking in their boots.
For a country as well-resourced – both in infrastructure and finances – and teeming with natural talent as SA does, we should not be strugling to qualify for major tournaments as we have been doing.
It is about time that those in charge of the game worked to find a way to ensure that our performances on the pitch match the resources we have.