Closer look at Bafana’s 2022 World Cup path
Ensuring qualification for the next Africa Cup of Nations has taken on added importance after South Africa were drawn with Ghana again in the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.
It means South Africa must get past the Black Stars twice over the next years … or again suffer the ignominy of sitting out while other countries represent the continent.
Beating Ghana in the Nations Cup qualifiers is imperative to the morale and psyche of the side going into the World Cup as Bafana Bafana will face the same old faces all over again.
Already the Black Stars have a slight advantage on that score: They beat South Africa 2-0 in the first of the 2021 Nations Cup qualifiers in Cape Coast last November and have the lead after two rounds in Group C.
Fortunately‚ in the Nations Cup qualifiers‚ the top two qualify.
In the World Cup it will be just the group winner which makes it imperative to steal a march on Ghana‚ who have since appointed a new coach in rookie Charles Akonnor.
He previously played in the Bundesliga and has coached at locals clubs but not at international level.
His first team selection in March when Ghana play Sudan in back-to-back Nations Cup qualifiers will be revealing.
Ghana still rely heavily on the Ayew brothers – Dede and Jordan – but need to hand the reigns over to a new generation‚ led by the midfield colossus Thomas Partey‚ who scored against Ronwen Williams in November.
Ghana have several talents emerging in Germany as they keep up a steady assembly line of starlets for their national team.
South Africa’s other two group opponents are Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.
Ethiopia caused the dismissal of both Pitso Mosimane and Gordon Igesund during the 2014 World Cup where Bafana bombed in their bid to get to Brazil.
Mosimane was sacked after Ethiopia drew with South Africa at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace and Igesund’s time was up after he could not get the win in Addis Ababa that South Africa required to keep alive qualification hopes.
Zimbabwe are perennial foes and have talented players at their disposal but largely sabotaged by their own administration.
It was only on Tuesday that the country’s football association was suspended by Cosafa for non-payment of their dues.
The boardroom squabbles – and it is really like school children arguing -- invariably trickles down to the players and prove demotivating.
When South Africa play Zimbabwe in Harare it will be a poignant reminder of the tragedy in 2000 when 13 people died in a stampede at the National Sports Stadium
It was caused by the goading celebration of Delron Buckley and Benni McCarthy after Buckley had scored a second goal to emphasis Bafana’s dominance on the day.
Frustrated home fans‚ desperate to have one over their powerful southern neighbours‚ responded by throwing missiles at the South African players and the Zimbabwe police then turned the situation deadly by firing teargas‚ causing stampede at the stairwells and a crush that proved deadly.