Disappointing Bafana Bafana let it slip away in Cape Verde
Bafana Bafana were simply poor capitulating to a 2-1 2018 World Cup qualifying defeat against Cape Verde in Praia on Friday night that puts the South Africans under pressure in Group D.
Reaching a World Cup was never going to be easy, and South Africans will chastise themselves for ever allowing that thought to enter their minds after so many experiences to counter that notion.
Yet, Tokelo Rantie’s 14th-minute strike seemed to indicate the win in Cape Verde SA needed to take control of the group was attainable. It was downhill from there with Nuno Rocha 33rd-minute equaliser and penalty in the 38th.
Out-of-form centreback Mulomowandau Mathoho, after a patchy first half, suffered a second red card in the space of nine days in the 68th for a rash, unnecessary foul at a stage where Bafana were trying to work their way from the back foot back.
Mathoho had also been dismissed in just the seventh minute of Kaizer Chiefs’ 2-1 league defeat against SuperSport United in his last game.
In tame surroundings of a half-full 15 000-seater Estadio Nacional de Cabo Verde, the South Africans were even gifted a soft lead. Instead of pressing the advantage they lost their nerve.
Bafana’s defence were shaky from the start. But it was a loss of authority and passing confidence soon after taking the lead that ultimately cost SA.
The artificial surface might have favoured the home side. But mostly it was Bafana’s infamous lack of nerve that raised its head again.
These World Cup qualifiers are far from over.
Senegal host Burkina Faso in Dakar on Saturday night, then the two face a reverse fixture on Wednesday. The two sides might well cancel each other out over two tight West African derbies.
And Bafana should manage victory against Cape Verde in Durban on Tuesday.
By the end of these four days, a more complete picture will be revealed and SA might find themselves scratching their heads at how they came through relatively unscathed.
That much remains to be seen.
Bafana got off to a perfect start. From Tebogo Langerman’s diagonal pass the Cape Verde central defence opened, allowing Rantie to ghost through and finish low past goalkeeper Vozinha.
The islanders suffered a further setback when injured centreback Vally Monteiro had to replaced with Steeven Pereira.
The early goal required consolidation, then to push for a second. Instead SA eased off.
Tiago Almeida’s cross was missed by Mathoho and Thulani Hlatshwayo. Rocha collected and his shot was deflected off Bongani Zungu past Williams.
Ryan Mendes then beat Mathoho into the area on the left, forcing Dean Furman to stick out a left leg. Williams got a hand to Rocha’s penalty, but could not stop the goal.
With South Africa trying to claw their way back into the game, Mathoho’s rush of blood was unforgiveable. The centreback hacked from behind at left-back Stopira, who was out of the field already, and received a straight red.