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Date: 12 December 2018

  South African - Soccer

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Bafana flaws & strengths on display against Colombia

[Posted 31 May 2010]
Bafana flaws & strengths on display against Colombia
Bafana's Brazillian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira will be the first to admit that the match against Colombia helped him draw very helpful lessons about Bafana's preparedness for the World Cup.

Parreira was bold to declare his team ready for the World Cup jamboree after the match against Colombia. Perhaps what the Bafana coach meant was that Bafana have been helped to prepare specifically for their World Cup opening tie against Mexico on 11 June at the Soccer City Stadium, a match which will definitely set the tonic for the rest of Bafana's World Cup campaign on home soil. Here is a quick analysis of the Bafana v Colombia match played at the Soccer City stadium last Thursday.

Flaws exposed-Learning points.

Thank God Bafana won the match 2-1 owing to their ability these days to convert half chances into goals, which is a strategy for which Inter Milan's Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho is famed. Both goals came from two penalties, not clearly convincing penalties awarded by the Kenyan referee whose performance on the night can be best described as "a comedy of errors". How on earth can a referee make so many amateurish errors in a warm-up World Cup match? The referee wanted to give an impression that he was in control of the match by issuing too many yellow cards for comfort in a friendly game. The referee simply showed he does not know where to stand when instructing defences where to form a wall during free-kicks. He showed little understanding of playing the advantage rule when a fouled player's team is in prime position to take a crack at goal. Through questionable decisions he disrupted the flow of the match.

First major flaw exposed in the Bafana team was lack of fluidity and combat in midfield. While the likes of Khuboni and Letsholonyane flourished under the challenges of Thailand and Bulgaria, Colombia asked a lot of questions about the pedigree of the midfielders under world cup-like opposition, beginning with the first match against the aggressive, pacey and tactically more aware Mexicans. The South African midfield was simply out-muscled, out-witted and generally out-played by the Colombians. The Bafana central mdfielders' stature did not help matters at all. They lost aerial tussles, and while they fought hard on ground tackles, they let Colombia create holes through the centre of the midfield and then terribly exposed Aaron Mokoena and Bongani Khumalo's lack of pace. Parreira's strategy to introduce Pienaar into central midfield was probably ill-advised.

Bafana needed a combative midfielder in the form of Macbeth Sibaya, and another gritty yet mobile big men in the center of the park like Kagisho Dikgacoi. Parreira did well by introducing the latter, but it was not so advisable to ask Schillo to partner KG in the center. He should have pulled off Teko Modise and introduced Sibaya and KG in the center, while freeing Schillo to attack the Colombians together with the ever-improving Simphiwe Tshabalala.

Bafana also proved that they lack a supportive striker, leaving Katlego Mphela isolated upfront and with little service from midfield.Surprie Moriri struggles to play that role effectively in a system which Parreira employs. Bafana needs a player in the mould of Steven Gerrard of England. Moriri appears to be the perfect choice, but ever since returning to the Bafana fold after injury, he hasn't been the same effective link-cum striker we used to know. This leaves Parreira sweating for the return to form of Benny McCarthy. There appears to be little faith in veteran striker Nomvete, who understandably, is not such a good passer of the ball to play that supporting role effectively. But Nomvete will prove very useful coming from the bench.

Parreira has to take chances and throw McCarthy into the fray from the word go in the Guatemala tie on 31 May. He has to go for broke and see how the team responds. The team has been riding its luck of scoring from set-pieces in the few games which really mattered played thus far. But Bafana's opposition in their world cup group has obviously been studying Bafana's strengths. This means Bafana Bafana have to quickly come up with various goal-scoring options, especially in open-play.

The Bafana defence needs to develop a good understanding in central defence. Mokoena and Khumalo haven't developed a telepathy at the back as yet. Siboniso Gaxa hasn't been as effective going forward as he was during the Conferederations Cup. Whether this is per Parreira's instructions remains unclear.

The other challenge of Parreira's team is that they lack penetrative passes from the back. They painfully resort to back passes more often than not. The midfield needs to learn to create enough spaces for the defence to make those penetrative passes. The attacking flair of Pienaar was sorely missed in the match against Colombia.

Emerging Strengths

Bafana have been scoring goals from set-pieces with relative easy in the past 3 matches. Thats a very good development. In a tightly balanced match, like what is likely to happen at the World Cup, a team has to convert the few chances which come its way.

Secondly, Bafana managed to hold onto thei slender lead aagainst a marauding Colombia during the nervy final 15 minutes. That's character. Thirdly the injury to Khune was not felt because his replacement Moneeb Josephs produced a performance deserving of a man-of-the-match award. I am not sure if Khumalo really deserved that man-of-the-match award awarded to him. Assumming he did, then the Pirates golaminder really made a very strong challenge for that award, and could have easily won the award if he had been introduced earlier.

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