The team needs to be applauded for the way they played against Seychelles, and for not undermining the Islanders, but the country didn’t expect less
South Africa beat Seychelles by four unanswared goals, but this was merely a ‘job done’ as they went into the encounter as strong favourites to walk away with all the three points.
While Stuart Baxter would be proud with his team’s effort on Saturday, the truth is that Seychelles were never in the game.
It is encouraging though that Bafana didn’t concede against Seychelles which should send a strong message to the rest of their rivals in Group E that they can defend as a unit.
Given that Baxter played a youthful team which comprised of players such as Lebohang Maboe, Lebo Mothiba, Percy Tau and Aubrey Modiba among others, the team can be forgiven for not scoring more than six goals in the first leg.
However, Seychelles have proven to be Group E lightweights, and the number of clear-cut goalscoring chances missed is still worrying.
For example, Percy Tau should have scored a hat-trick, but he only managed a single goal.
Seychelles goalkeeper Romeo Barra faced 15 shots from the South Africans, and managed to make nine saves, some of which were brillant as Bafana had to up their game, work on their hard to eventually put six past him.
Against tougher opponents such as Libya (away from home) and Nigeria, Bafana’s performance against The Pirates wouldn’t cut it, because they wouldn’t enjoy the 75 percent ball possession they did against any of the remaining teams that are still in with a chance to qualify for Cameroon next year.
And this is what should give Baxter and his technical team something to worry about, especially if they are to compete at the finals than just adding numbers.
Baxter’s decision to add Shaun Bartlett to his backroom staff was smart, but the real test will be how the team performs against Libya and Nigeria before the public can raise their hopes.
With Seychelles definitely out of contention, it’s now up to Baxter and the team to build a solid foundation and work on converting more chances – this will boost the team’s morale and make it gel going forward.
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The frantic start that Bafana had on Saturday is what’s needed to kill off their games early. They took the foot off the pedal midway through the second half, and stronger opponents would take full advantage of that lapse in concentration; this is what the team has to work.
Away from home on Tuesday, Bafana will need to show the same passion and energy, but they also need to be more clinical in front of goal.
The team needs to be applauded for the way they played against Seychelles, and for not undermining the Islanders in any way throughout the game.