Bafana Bafana Crash at First Hurdle

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar November 4, 2018 20:39

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Bafana Bafana Crash at First Hurdle

By Satish Sekar at Polokwane’s New Peter Mokaba Stadium © Satish Sekar (June 3rd 2018)

Despite having the best of the match, which ended scoreless, South Africa fell at the first hurdle to Madagascar 4-3 in a penalty shootout, and will now face Namibia in the Plate semi-finals. The villain of the piece as far as the hosts were concerned was Braga’s youngster Luther Singh.

The Bafana Bafana were initially in the lead in the penalty shootout‚ but Jamie Webber struck the post before Singh stepped up. Singh was tasked with netting the decisive penalty in Bafana Bafana’s shootout defeat against Madagascar in their COSAFA Cup quarter-final, but casually tried to dummy a shot past goalkeeper, Jean Randrianasolo. However, it was not to be as the keeper made an easy save. Embattled coach Stuart Baxter in his second spell as Bafana Bafana boss, pledged to have a word with Singh about it.

“I’ll speak to Luther about the way he took his penalty,” Baxter said. “We took penalties in training last night and he scored both of his. And that’s the thing – I don’t think we can ask if Luther was the right one to take the penalty.”

But Baxter’s concerns were with profligacy. The nonchalant penalty wasn’t the first time that Singh should have tested Randrianasolo, but failed to do so. His first effort, 20 minutes into the match, produced a good save, but Singh should have been more clinical in his finishing with the goal beckoning.

“He [Singh] had two chances in the game. Maybe his confidence was a bit low; maybe he was a bit nervous; maybe it didn’t come over as he looked. He looked like he wanted to be casual.”

The lackadaisical penalty wasn’t the first time that Singh should have tested Randrianasolo, but failed to do so. His first effort, 20 minutes into the match, produced a good save, but Singh should have been more clinical in his finishing with the goal beckoning. But as Baxter indicated, it wasn’t just Singh.

South Africa had the chances. Lebohang Maboe had presentable chances in both halves – the first went wide when he should have scored and the second required a smart save with his legs by the keeper. Aubrey Modiba’s stinging shot beat Randrianasolo, but thudded against the crossbar – it was as close as the Bafana Bafana came to scoring.

“It concerns me greatly when we don’t score goals from chances‚ whether it’s a penalty or a chance from open play‚” he said.

Madagascar played to a plan to defend and grab whatever they could, and they very nearly did. They were a bit more adventurous in the second half, Jaotombo Bourahim’s effort was thwarted by South Africa’s keeper Reyaad Pieterse. The keeper would have the first, but not last word in the penalty shootout too, as he saved midfielder Michael Rabeson’s effort.

The Bafana Bafana had the edge until substitute Jamie Webber missed his spot kick and Singh’s was saved. Tobisoa Njakanirina stepped and gave Madagascar a historic win – they had achieved their target, and would have the opportunity to add a further scalp in the semi-final against Zambia.

Meanwhile, Baxter admitted that they can’t make it up to Bafana Bafana supporters, but pledged to take the Plate (consolation prize) seriously, where they would face defending champions, Zimbabwe, or Botswana, who would play their semi-final as the dust on this upset settled.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar November 4, 2018 20:39