Seychelles shock encapsulates Bafana failings
South Africa’s two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Seychelles in the last few days have shown the casual observer everything they need to know about this current Bafana Bafana side.
At times, they are incisive, skilful and a joy to watch, in other moments sloppy, lackadaisical and utterly frustration in their execution. They can be the both brilliant and bemusing in equal measure.
It is nothing new.
Last year they followed up a commanding 2-0 victory away in Uyo against Nigeria, a match in which they could easily have been 5-0 winners, with back-to-back home and away losses to Cape Verde.
There was no reason why they should perform so poorly in those matches against Cape Verde when they clearly have the ability to beat, with the greatest respect to the islanders, much better sides.
Saturday’s 6-0 success over Seychelles was a record win for the country, and yet they follow that up days later with arguably one of their most deflating results, a goalless draw against a side ranked number 189 in the world.
Certainly, there have been darker days, but just when it appeared that a corner had been turned at the weekend, Bafana blow the chance to take a real grip on their Nations Cup qualification group.
For a side that have only made it through one continental qualification campaign in the last decade (they appeared as hosts in 2013), it is potentially a big chance blown.
Certainly there were mitigating circumstances to Tuesday’s goalless draw; the pitch in Victoria was horrendous and made playing passing football extremely difficult, cutting out one of the team’s key weapons, to hit sides quickly on the counter-attack.
In fact, it was noticeable how, in the second half, the side resorted to hoofing long balls up field, which is most certainly not their game.
There were also the glaring misses.
Lebo Mothiba fluffed a simple tap-in from two yards by hitting the bar, Aubrey Modiba shot wide from six yards, and then missed a simple headed chance. There were others too.
Coach Stuart Baxter will be tearing his hair out as he knows this will all come back to him.
The fans, the media will lay the blame at his door when in truth his side created enough chances to win it. Baxter is not on the pitch to put the ball in the back of the net, and no-one would complain about his forward selections.
He had warned of complacency ahead of this game, but there weren’t any real signs of that. It was worse, there was a lack of ability to put the opposition away.
The good news for Bafana fans feeling low is that it would be just like this Bafana side to now go and turn over Nigeria at home next month, when they will be back on the plush FNB Stadium pitch and able to play to their strengths.
Their inconsistency has become a consistent feature of the side.
On the positive side, they have now conceded just one goal in their last seven internationals and rarely looked troubled against the Seychelles.
So while there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth over the result in Victoria, all is most certainly not lost, and the likelihood remains that Bafana will still qualify for Cameroon.
Just for once, fans can be forgiven for wanting it done the easy way.