After a meek loss against Ghana‚ Sudan can pose problems for Bafana

Molefi Ntseki, Head Coach, of South Africa during the 2019 Nelson Mandela Challenge match between South Africa and Mali at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Molefi Ntseki, Head Coach, of South Africa during the 2019 Nelson Mandela Challenge match between South Africa and Mali at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Image: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images

Having just returned from a meek loss away to Ghana‚ any thoughts that Sudan might provide some respite for Bafana Bafana in Sunday’s second 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Orlando Stadium should be firmly put aside.

The Sudanese have been impressive in their recovery from a horror spell in recent times and are especially adept on the road‚ where their ability to soak up pressure and hit teams on the counterattack has engineered some notable results.

There is‚ perhaps‚ not too much to read into Wednesday’s 4-0 home hammering of minnows Sao Tome and Principe as Sudan played against 10 men for 68 minutes after a first-half dismissal for Sao Tome goalkeeper Aldair D’Almeida.

But it did give the North African side an extra 24 hours to prepare for Sunday’s encounter‚ as opposed to the mad dash of Bafana Bafana back from Ghana’s Cape Coast that only sees them arrive late on Friday afternoon.

After a narrow 1-0 loss to Nations Cup runners-up Senegal last year‚ Sudan’s last three away games have all resulted in wins‚ including an impressive 3-1 success at a vastly improved Madagascar.

They also won in Chad (3-1) and Tanzania (1-0)‚ and while Bafana should present a greater challenge than those two‚ it is a sign of some consistency that had been missing in previous years.

Sudan’s Croatian coach Zdravko Logarušić has rejuvenated the side in the last 18 months and refreshed the squad‚ bringing in a number of younger players.

It is still mostly selected from the “big two” in the country‚ Al-HIlal and Al-Merrikh‚ but the addition of Tottenham Hotspur teenager Mowafaq Aadil and Romania-based Yasin Hamed adds a new dimension.

Logarušić has coached in Africa for the last decade at clubs in Ghana‚ Kenya and Angola‚ and so will know the South African style well and have a plan to counter it.

South Africa may be the better side on paper‚ but Sudan will bring good organisation and a fighting spirit in the knowledge that a victory‚ or even a point‚ in Orlando will be a major fillip in their attempt to spring a surprise in the pool.

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