Bafana Bafana need to be brave against Senegal
Posted: 6 November 2017 Time: 13:00
KickOff.com editor Tshepang Mailwane talks about how Bafana Bafana need to deliver in the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Senegal.
If ever there was a time Bafana Bafana needed to stand up and be counted, this is it.
Having to watch other African countries at a World Cup, while Bafana’s players put their feet up and spectate from the comfort of their own homes, is just not on.
For as long as I can remember, Bafana have not quite dealt with the pressure of having to play big games. In qualifiers and major competition matches they were supposed to win at all costs, the team did not live up to the expectations of the nation.
Not since 2002 has the senior national team qualified for the FIFA World Cup but the current group of players have a chance of making themselves heroes by beating Senegal in back-to-back qualifiers during the international week. Bafana need six points in their remaining qualifiers or else.
Standing in their way is a Senegalese side intent on getting revenge after referee Joseph Lamptey was found to have manipulated the result when these two nations met in November last year.
The Lions of Teranga have also not qualified for the World Cup since 2002, when star man El Hadji Diouf played a key role in getting them to the quarterfinals, so you can imagine how psyched up they will be coming to South Africa.
They too want to see themselves competing in football’s biggest competition, but Bafana need to be brave and not fear their opponents who have some players playing in top league across Europe. Just as they did in their 2-0 victory over Nigeria in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in June, Bafana need to believe they can overcome an African giant and not allow the pressure of having to win these two games get to them.
Coach Stuart Baxter has a big role to play this week in, firstly, getting his tactics right and making sure that the team is in the right head space to face the challenge. The 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso was impressive and they now need to take it up a gear because Senegal will be much stronger opponents.
Part of SAFA’s Vision 2022 is to see the senior national team qualifying for major competitions such as the World Cup and Cup of Nations, but the team would be taking another step backwards if they do not book themselves a ticket to Russia.