Bafana Bafana head coach Shakes Mashaba believes his side is slowly getting where it should be. Mashaba said this after his side defeated Congo 2-nil in a CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier played on Saturday in Pointe Noire to take leadership of Group A. Second half goals from strikers Bongani Ndulula and Tokelo Rantie three minutes apart (in the 52nd and 55th minutes) were enough to see the South Africans return home with maximum points.
This was the ninth meeting between the two nations, and Bafana Bafana have won five of the clashes, losing just once. The Bafana Bafana mentor has now beaten the Congolese two times – first time in Octtober of 1992 in Johannesburg (Ellis Park Stadium), in the first encounter between the two nations. “I am happy to have beaten Congo for the second time. The first time I was a stand-in coach. We defeated them one nil, today it was two and I hope the next time it will be three. But it shows there is some improvement from the coaches, we are getting somewhere,” said Mashaba.
“It also shows we are on track with our vision. Sudan and Congo are no pushovers, and we lacked a bit of luck to defeat Nigeria. But things are working well. If you look at the personnel we brought in, they looked good. Youngster Rivaldo (Coetzee) was outstanding, Letsholonyane gave us what we wanted. Going forward we will bring in one or two more players because we are building a new side and I hope it will bring more results. Should we qualify for Morocco then we will test the strength of the squad at the tournament, and once we are done there we look forward to preparing for the 2018 World Cup,” Mashaba continued. Bafana Bafana have now played three matches in the qualifiers without conceding, but what pleases Mashaba more is how the results were achieved.
“It’s a combination of things because when you play good football without scoring it doesn’t help, but you can also play bad and get three points. But here we have combined the two because the boys are playing good football, it’s been quite a while since I last saw our team playing such good football. They are beaming with confidence as individuals, but the combination of the players means we are gradually achieving our goals,” added the Bafana Bafana mentor. South Africa still has a date with the same Congo on Wednesday, 15 October at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane – a match that could clinch qualification for Morocco 2015. “This result has led us to the good and the bad – players when they have taken a lead, they showboating and it’s a tough thing to get it out of them. They are booming with confidence and it nearly cost us. If it was not for Senzo they would have scored a goal or two. We are not going to change much for the return leg. We will approach them with the same strategy and ensure we don’t concede early on. Also we need to guard against complacency. Playing at home is also not a luxury anymore as the players become more under pressure from the fans and end up making mistakes, no freedom of expression. But I believe it’s a plus to us having played three tough games without conceding. It is another way to show that the team is working together,” added Mashaba.
Bafana Bafana have now scored a total of six times and conceded four goals in nine matches against the Red Devils. South Africa leads the group with seven points, followed by Congo with 6 poinsts. Elsewhere Sudan stunned Nigeria by one goal to nil to leave the struggling Super Eagles bottom of the group with just one point after three matches. Sudan is third with three points.