Moments where the national team lost their way to Russia
These are the four key moments where the national team lost their way.
1. The timing of former Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba's tirade against Safa after the nullified 2-1 victory against Senegal in November last year had a disastrous impact on Bafana's momentum in the World Cup qualifiers.
Mashaba left Safa with no option but to sack him, paving the way for the return of Stuart Baxter, whose approach failed to take the team to the World Cup for the second time after doing the same in 2005.
2. The two back-to-back 2-1 defeats against minnows of the group, Cape Verde, was the huge turning point.
Had Bafana managed to at least extract four points in the matches against Cape Verde, they would have succeeded in putting pressure on other opponents. Those four points, plus the three they gained in the 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso, would have given Bafana more confidence going into the Senegal match.
3. Safa's decision to host the Cape Verde match in Durban didn't help as the Islanders acclimatised even better than Bafana players in what was clearly familiar weather for the visitors. Baxter should also shoulder the blame for not raising the issue of the venue with his employers.
4. Baxter failed to get consistent results and to build on his good start that saw his team beat Nigeria 2-0 away in an Afcon 2019 qualifier in June. He failed to instil discipline at the back as his team conceded seven goals in four matches. His over-reliance on SuperSport United players indicated his reluctance to cast his net wider. Safa's decision to give Baxter a five-year contract has backfired with questions now raised about his future a year after taking over from Mashaba.