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Tovey: Bafana still on course for AFCON

Posted: 11 September 2018 Time: 15:57

SAFA technical director Neil Tovey has leaped to the defence of Bafana Bafana as criticism mounts following a lacklustre display against Libya.

Bafana were pegged back by The Mediterranean Knights as the first ever meeting between the two sides in their Africa Cup of Nations Group E qualifer ended 0-0 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium this past weekend.

Stuart Baxter's charges did themselves a disfavour by not picking up maximum points on home soil, and thus find themselves just one point ahead of West African giants Nigeria, who beat Seychelles 3-0 in the other group fixture.

The situation has since sent the country's football lovers into a state of unease, given the similarities of dropping points in their own back yard during their failed 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign last year.

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However, Tovey insists everything is still well on course for Bafana to make it to Cameroon 2019, with back-to-back fixtures against The Pirates, who are ranked 188th in the world according to the latest FIFA rankings.

"I understand that people are aggrieved because we need to win our home matches, but at the same time we are well on our way to qualification [for AFCON]," Tovey told the media.

"I mean, why's everyone getting excited about not qualifying? There's two places up for grabs, not one, and we've got to do the job against Seychelles and I'm sure that we will.

"That will take us to 10 points if we hopefully do the job - not to get too far ahead of ourselves, so why's everybody jumping up and down?

"We'll have 10 points with Nigeria to play at home and Libya away, and they will be taking points off each other. So I don't think we're in a crisis like everybody's making it out to be."

After being reminded of the World Cup qualifying defeats to perceived minnows at the time Cape Verde, the former Bafana captain admitted that attacking play was the team's downfall in Durban but insisted that such issues stem from local clubs.

"I can't comment on the future, I'm not a fortune teller. I can only comment on the present and the situation of being on four points," he stressed.

"If you had said to us, before the group started, we'd have four points after two matches of playing Nigeria away and Libya at home, I would have gone for that.

"So that's exactly where we are now, that was always in the plan. Yes, we beat Nigeria away and yes, we are disappointed at not getting three points at home to Libya – and we should have done better in an attacking way.

"But the attacking game is a microcosm of our game in this country at the moment, it's not just for Baxter to click his fingers and just suddenly come up with a recipe, when day-in and day-out it's a microcosm of our players playing in the PSL at the moment unfortunately.

"I want to ask you, if you do your analysis on the next game, how many teams are getting more than two players into the box when the ball gets put into the box? You do your own analysis, and I guarantee you won't come up with more than two players.

"The top teams in the top countries in the world put four or five players in the box and then two or three outside, and it's funny how the ball starts dropping to players and they start scoring goal – so that's the major problem.

"Watch the next PSL match and tell me how many players Pirates, Chiefs, Sundowns or any of the teams are putting in the box. I guarantee you, at times, you'll really have a rude awakening."

Article by: Chad Klate (@CKlatey)

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