When they returned to play for the first time since November 2019, Namibia saw South Africa as its perfect opponents. In preparation for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe next month, Bafana was using the friendly match. Coach Molefi Ntseki attempted to secure Bafana momentum in two friendly matches by winning a routine win on Thursday night over the Valiant Warriors. South Africa did, however, achieve a sloppy success by taking 1-1 with Namibia, which lost four previous games against Bafana and came into conflict. It was predicted that Ntseki would proceed from where Stuart Baxter left off having worked as an assistant coach under an expert British tactician.
With the former Finland coach Bafana turned into a strong side with a solid structure, the national team made good strides under Baxter and qualified for the Afcon Final in 2019. Twelve months ago Ntseki debuted as the latest Bafana Trainer to guide South Africans at home in the 2019 Nelson Mandela Challenge in a narrow 2-1 victory over Mali.
In November 2019, Bafana succeeded to a frustrating 2-0 loss to Ghana, before he ended in his home country in a 1-0 win over Sudan. Since Ntseki had taken over the reins of Baxter and his side plays as he always experimented, the 1996 African Champions played with little structure and continuity. Ntseki made big changes to the squad that beat Sudan and lifted a few eyebrows in the launch lineup to a confrontation with Namibia. Thibang Phete, Siyethemba Sithebe and Thabo Nodada all made their international experimental debuts while leading actors including Thulani Hatshwayo and Percy Tau sat on the bench.
The tactician is too early to judge, but his side is not playing with South Africa’s legitimacy to be able to qualify for his second consecutive Afcon finals. The success of the squad is derailed by benching players such as Captain Bavarian Hlatshwayo and Talisman Tau who have qualified for this 2019 tourney and achieved the quarter-finals. As the time runs out for field experimenting squads, former South Africa under 17 coach wants to find the best mix of young and seasoned players in the squads.
Bafana needs to develop a winning habit that ensures that they always take every match seriously and always go for a victory. The 2022 vision deadline is just around the corner with Bafana expected to launch its qualification campaign for the 2022 Fifa World Cup next year. Achieving positive results in the 2022 Afcon qualifiers would make Ntseki a good spot for him as they open their qualification campaign for the World Cup in May 2021.
Sunday’s clash with Zambia is a chance for Ntseki to play a competitive, seasoned side to win a victory before meeting Sao Tome and Principe. A victory in 2012 will give Bafana a huge boost in two key back-to-back matches against the Falcons and True Parrots team next month. South Africa now rates the second-most in their qualification category and could position them in a category C driving spot with two games remaining, two victories over Sao Tome and Principe.
Inputs from goal