Suspension causes Bafana to change plans as they seek final win

08 June 2018 - 06:00 By Nick Said
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter will have to deal with a key suspension if his team is to win the COSAFA Cup Plate final.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter will have to deal with a key suspension if his team is to win the COSAFA Cup Plate final.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Suspension to midfielder Fortune Makaringe will mean a switch in plans for Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter‚ but he expects it to be the only chance for the COSAFA Cup Plate final against Botswana at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium on Friday evening.

After the disappointment of the 0-0 stalemate with Madagascar in the Cup quarterfinals on Sunday that saw the side ousted on penalties‚ the youthful Bafana rebounded with an excellent 4-1 success over an arguably more difficult Namibian side in the Plate semi-final on Tuesday.

But as Makaringe received yellow cards in each of those matches‚ it means he is now suspended for the final against Botswana‚ leaving Baxter short of one of his better performers over the two games.

“There will probably be no other changes to start with‚ we are down to 16 players through suspension‚ injuries and one player [Gift Motupa] who has had to go home for family reasons‚” Baxter said.

“So it is likely we will have that change [Makaringe] and then hopefully I will be able to have some more later on to give the younger ones a bit more of a run.”

Baxter is limited to a certain extent by his options in terms of replacing Makaringe‚ as there is no like-for-lie replacement for the Maritzburg United man in the remainder of the squad.

An option would be to recall Luther Singh and move Lebohang Maboe to a deeper role in midfield.

Or he could switch to a 4-2-3-1‚ with Wiseman Meyiwa and Siphesihle Ndlovu as the holding midfielders‚ and Maboe‚ Singh and Gift Links in front of them‚ with Ryan Moon as centre-forward.

It will be a third game in six days for most of the players‚ coming off a long season‚ but Baxter feels the fact it is a final will take away some of that weariness.

“The fatigue is an issue‚ but you end up finding each other a little bit better. Maybe that will make up for it and the motivation to play and to win will take over.”

The success over Namibia was a more polished performance from the side in the final third‚ but Baxter maintains that the outcry after the penalty shoot-out loss to Madagascar was unjustified.

“I think people that get hung up on the results of this tournament really need to take a look at themselves because nearly every game [in the knockout stages] has been decided on penalties‚” he said

“So one kick of a ball for or against you doesn’t mean you have had a great day or a bad day. You have got to look more at the game. I wasn’t happy with the game against Madagascar‚ the missed chances‚ but I thought we probably shaded it and losing on penalties or winning on penalties shouldn’t be the big part.

“I get the disappointment‚ but when there are so many games … like Namibia I thought were well in the game against Zambia and we beat Namibia well.

“You have to temper that … I don’t expect everybody to do so‚ but the sensible people will.”

Botswana are playing their sixth match in 12 days and have looked good‚ taking the much-vaunted Zimbabwean side to penalties in the quarterfinals before losing out.

“They have played well against Zimbabwe and then played well again [against Swaziland] to go through [to the Plate final]. They have been struggling a little bit because they have had so many games.

“But those lots of games gel you a little bit and they have found a rhythm that hopefully we have also found now.

“You go into the first game hoping they will find each other and it is a big ask. The second game was better and hopefully the third game will be better still.”

South Africa won the Plate final in the COSAFA Cup in 2017 when they beat Namibia 1-0 with a single strike from Mohau Mokate.