Bafana coach Ntseki faces another headache: 'Ghana will be coming here with a different team altogether'
Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki’s own squad plans have not just been thrown into disarray by European clubs refusing to release players‚ but also his preparations in terms of what to expect from Thursday’s opponents Ghana.
Bafana meet Ghana – level on nine points in 2021 Africa Cup of Cup of Nations qualifying Group C‚ though the Black Stars lead on goal difference – at FNB Stadium (kickoff 6pm) with a chance to reach Cameroon 2021 with a game to spare.
South Africa will hope a win against the vaunted West Africans – who beat Bafana 2-0 in the opening game of the qualifiers in Cape Coast in November 2019 – can see Bafana wrap up qualification before Sunday’s final Group C match against Sudan (six points) in Khartoum. Sudan are away to Sao Tome and Principe on Wednesday.
A Fifa circular regarding Covid-19‚ stating that clubs are not expected to release players if there is a “mandatory period of quarantine or self-isolation of at least five days”‚ has decimated squads for the final two rounds of the Nations Cup qualifiers.
Ghana‚ whose coach CK Akonnor announced a 30-man squad with 20 overseas-based players in it last week‚ though missing headline stars such as Jordan and Andre Ayew‚ have been hit hard by withdrawals‚ reports from Ghana have suggested.
That makes it almost impossible for Ntseki to hastily rearrange his analysis conducted on the Black Stars in the past few weeks‚ including technical reports that were sent out to the SA players before reporting to camp.
“I would say Ghana for us are more dangerous than they were when we were analysing them‚ and [now] bringing in players for this game. Because it becomes much easier for you to play when you know who you’re playing against‚ when you analyse individual players in their team‚” Ntseki said.
“In this case you are more about the coach to say‚ ‘In their past two matches what was their approach?’ And hopefully it will be the same approach.
“But Ghana will be coming here with a different team altogether. The first leg that they played against Sudan in Cape Coast they won‚ and then the second game in Sudan [both in November] they changed the team‚ and they lost.
“So they are a very difficult team‚ a very dangerous team‚ even now that they have lost some of their best players. Whoever will be in that team will try to prove a point‚ will try to win a permanent position in that team.
“So we are more concerned about our team‚ and our approach‚ in terms of playing to get results.”
Ntseki would already have adapted his research on Ghana from the combination his team were fairly convincingly outplayed by a year-and-a-half‚ and a global pandemic‚ ago in Cape Coast.
That team was coached by Kwesi Appiah‚ then under pressure from the fallout of Ghana’s disappointing 2019 Nations Cup performance in Egypt‚ where the Black Stars earned just five points progressing past Group F‚ then lost on penalties to Tunisia in the second round.
When Appiah was fired in January 2020‚ though‚ it came as a surprise as he had begun the Cameroon 2021 qualifying campaign with the win against Bafana and a 1-0 victory away to Sao Tome and Principe.
Akonnor‚ the 1990s Fortuna Koln and Wolfsburg midfielder who played in Ghana’s 3-0 1996 Nations Cup semifinal defeat to Bafana at the old FNB‚ was appointed‚ and oversaw a 2-0 win at home to Sudan‚ but a 1-0 shock reversal in Khartoum.