Bafana not as bad as many believe‚ says Delron Buckley

General view of South African players and coach Stuart Baxter during the African Cup of Nations match between Cote d'Ivoire and South Africa at Al-Salam Stadium on June 24, 2019 in Cairo, Egypt.
General view of South African players and coach Stuart Baxter during the African Cup of Nations match between Cote d'Ivoire and South Africa at Al-Salam Stadium on June 24, 2019 in Cairo, Egypt.
Image: Ahmed Hasan/Gallo Images)

Delron Buckley believes Bafana Bafana's performance against Ivory Coast was not as bad as many have made out‚ but wants the team to show more aggression and physical intent when they tackle Namibia in their second Africa Cup of Nations pool match on Friday.

Former German Bundesliga star Buckley‚ who won 73 international caps and played at two World Cups between 1998 and 2012‚ says the structure of the team was good‚ but they were too easily bullied off the ball by the Ivorians in their 1-0 loss on Monday.

“There was a structure‚ the players knew what to do‚ you could see that‚” Buckley told SowetanLIVE.

“I think with the goal‚ the defence just fell asleep for the second‚ which killed them them.

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“If the two centre-backs [Thulani Hlatshwayo and Buhle Mkhwanazi] were wide awake‚ it wouldn’t have happened.

"But it was a one small mistake.”

Buckley says the big difference was the physicality shown by the west African side‚ who took a cheap shot at Bafana’s Dean Furman early on and continued to rough up the South Africans.

“You could see the Ivory Coast boys were kicking us‚ using their bodies and bullying us about‚" he said.

"And we had no answer to it. They were going over the ball and our boys were a little bit scared.

“That intentional elbow into Furman early in the game‚ that should have got our boys fired up and ready for the physical fight.

"If I had been out there I would have wanted to give the Ivorians a taste of their own medicine.

“But it seemed to do the opposite for us‚ we retreated a little bit and let them win the physical battle‚ which you can’t do when you are playing in Africa.

"You have to command the pitch.”

Buckley‚ who now owns a soccer school in Durban and presents Beyond the Sport on SABC‚ says the side have no choice but to show more intensity against Namibia‚ especially with fancied Morocco to come in their final pool game.

“They have to pull up their socks because they cannot really even afford a draw against Namibia‚" he said.

"They have to go out there with the attitude that it is a must-win game look to create more opportunities.

“But it won’t be easy‚ this Namibia team is a decent side and they have often caused us problems in the past‚ because for them it is like a derby.”

Buckley says he has full faith in coach Stuart Baxter to come up with the right plan for the coming games.

“Stuart is a very professional and experienced coach‚ he will know what to do‚" he said.

"He will watch the game against the Ivory Coast and see the mistakes‚ and also see how he can manipulate Namibia.”

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