Six things Bafana need to do to win this huge Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier
Bafana Bafana have to beat Burkina Faso at FNB Stadium on Saturday to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
These are six things TimesLIVE believes Bafana need to do to win this huge Russia 2018 qualifier:
1) A midfield and attack that can create and score goals
With a win a priority‚ in this home game Bafana cannot be as defensively laid out as they were in their 2-1 defeat against Cape Verde in Durban last month‚ where Baxter’s bench appeared to have more firepower than his starting line-up.
There are players capable of creating and scoring goals in this squad‚ and they need to play. Baxter has a tough task deciding exactly who gets the starting nod.
Keagan Dolly and Themba Zwane seem assured of a start.
Lebogang Manyama and Percy Tau should too.
Burkina Faso‚ as is the West African trait‚ will be big but somewhat cumbersome at the back – so run the back four off the FNB park.
2) Hlompo Kekana must start to protect the back four
There is one defensive midfielder who stands out above the rest for physical presence‚ mobility and an ability to roam forward and join attacks or unleash power shots without leaving himself exposed‚ and that’s Sundowns’ African champion Kekana.
With an attack that includes stars such as Lyon’s Bertrand Traore‚ Prejuce Nakoulma of Nantes and Egyptian-based Aristide Bance it’s highly improbable Bafana‚ especially with an absentee-hit defence‚ will not concede chances.
But with Kekana breaking down attacks from the midfield they can limit how many.
3) Gould and Daniels must marshal the back four
With Mulomowandau Mathoho suspended and Ramahlwe Mphahlele injured‚ the likely makeshift defence is: Thamsanqa Mkhize at right-back‚ Morgan Gould and Clayton Daniels at centreback and Sifiso Hlanti on the left.
SuperSport United team-mates Gould and Daniels will be crucial in making sure the back four holds its shape.
4) Baxter needs to get his strike partnership right
Tokelo Rantie was left out for dubious reasons‚ but that’s been done and cannot be changed. From what Baxter has available‚ Bradley Grobler was unimpressive and lacked penetration to threaten Cape Verde.
The coach would be better served with a quick‚ skilful‚ destructive duo such as Manyama behind Tau‚ who could pick or tear holes through the Burkina defence.
Phakamani Mahlambi’s pace might bring something from the bench.
The coach will have seen Lebo Mothiba during training and must decide whether the Valenciennes youngster can shoulder a run in such a huge game.
Dino Ndlovu. Frankly – no.
5) Baxter must get his forward central midfielder right
With so many good candidates – Bongani Zungu‚ Kamohelo Mokotjo and Andile Jali – to play just in front of Kekana this is one of the toughest decisions facing the coach.
Zungu was unimpressive in Cape Verde‚ then disgracefully partied hard in the team hotel in Durban.
Does Baxter sideline him to teach him a lesson‚ or give him a chance to redeem himself‚ which might just work?
Jali barely got a run against Cape Verde‚ and when he did as a substitute in Durban‚ scored. He has that sort of confidence‚ so why not utilise it?
Mokotjo perhaps has just not shown enough in his limited opportunities so far in a Bafana jersey that he can grab a game by the scruff of the neck.
Baxter will have seen them in training not just this week‚ but for Cape Verde. It’s a tough one. We say Jali.
6) The return of Itumeleng Khune
A chest infection kept him out of the last two qualifiers and when fit‚ he can win this game for Bafana between the posts.