Amajita coach Thabo Senong has urged his players to respond with vengeance if they are to remain in contention of a semi-final place in their next game against Mali on Thursday in Saly, Senegal. South Africa were stung by a physically and tactically superior Ghana in the opening match on Monday afternoon in which few players, according to Senong came to the party. Senong refused to mention the few players that raised their hands in the game against Ghana, but midfielder Pule Maraisane and defender Ayabulela Konqobe gave some promising performances in that lost cause.
While disappointed by the opening match’s flat showing, the youthful mentor thinks the 2-0 defeat might have been a timely wake-up call his players needed to trigger them into action. Addressing his players soon after the defeat, Senong berated his charges for being too flat and not lifting their game when the going got tough: ‘I am disappointed at the showing. That is not the Amajita we all know but we will correct these mistakes in the next game. We have to come good, we have no choice.’ The coach bemoaned two costly mistakes in the first half as the moments that defined the entire contest.
First, defender Aubrey Modiba pushed the ball past his own keeper in the opening minutes and a minute from half-time, the otherwise reliable goalkeeper, Dumisani Msibi rushed off his line, leaving his area exposed and allowing the aggressive Benjamin Tetteh to lob the ball into an empty net. Senong said: ‘We were completely flat in the first half and the two basic mistakes didn’t help matters. We were really bad in the first half. We were not that bad in the second half but playing with 10 men against a side of Ghana’s stature was never going to be easy. The red card made things really difficult for us.’ Asked why he did not throw caution to the wind in the second half and attack more, Senong said there was that danger of being caught on the counter-attack and risk conceding more goals.
The gifted and one of South Africa’s brightest coaching prospects said Amajita had now no choice but to swim or otherwise sink in their next game: ‘It is time to go to the drawing board; we are down but definitely not out. Mali won’t be easy but we have to come out with guns blazing. We have little choice.’ Senong said it was imperative to get a result against Mali who beat Zambia 1-0 in the other game insisting there was everything to play for. South Africa play Zambia in the last Group game on Sunday and Senong hopes by then, the group would be nicely poised.