What Eagles must do to beat Bafana Bafana
*South African national team dissected
From Bunmi Blair
Make no mistake, the South Africans can play. Their build up is majorly from the back and they execute their attacks via the wings.
They pass the ball around swiftly while putting together delightful passes. Despite their beautiful play, they lack players that can really hurt opponent’s defence from a long distance, no wonder they prefer to walk the ball in. South Africa’s main attacking threat is Tokelo Rantie who plays in Turkey for Genclerbirligi.
According to www.whoscored.com Tokelo Rantie has a very strong dribbling ability coupled with strong long shots which can hurt any goalkeeper but likes to play short passes. His finishing is weak, defensive contribution weak and very poor at holding on to the ball.
The South Africans are like Arsenal more contended with knocking the ball around when they could do better by shooting on goal. They commit many players upfront while attacking and employ both the high pressure and midfield pressing systems when suitable.
South Africa’s defence most times is caught ball watching, especially in the first few minutes of a match before settling in. So, a quick switch from one half to the other targeting speed stars: Ahmed Musa and Moses Simone could end up putting them one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Guinea-Bissau’s Tony Silver was put through one-on-one with South Africa’s goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune, trice within the first 10 minutes of their friendly game played in March, although he failed to score.
The South African team is however very dangerous on the counter especially when they are able to isolate defenders. They have players like Thulani Serero, Percy Tau, Dolly Keagan, Tokelo Rantie, who could be handful to any defender in a one-on- one situation. None of these players should be left alone with Kenneth Omeruo.
If the Super Eagles must beat Bafana Bafana, they need to have special game plan for the following players:
Itumeleng Khune, age 29 (Kaizer Chiefs): Khune is the man to watch out for in this South Africa team not Tokelo Rantie. He has a penchant for launching attacks from defense. He is South Africa’s man to run to when it comes to turning defense into attack. One of such moves earned South Africa their second goal in their 3-1 win over Guinea-Bissau in March. Mamelodi Sundowns’ Percy Tau finished off a move started by Khune, they needed just four touches to move the ball from Khune to the back of the net. Khune is an attacking weapon as much as he is a defensive Trojan. The 29 year old is also known for special abilities like saving from the penalty spot and he is quick at narrowing down angles when in one-on-one situations. He is one of the most experienced players in this South African team having made his debut in March, 2008.
Keagan Dolly, age 22 (Montpellier): He is South Africa’s new poster boy, captained South African’s U-23 team to the 2016 Summer Olympics men’s football tournament, signed by French league 1 side Montpellier in January after a protracted transfer dispute with Mamelodi Sundowns. He is known for his creativity and ability to tackle, some of the attributes not easily found in a single player nowadays. Dolly was South Africa’s man of the match in their 3-1 friendly game win against Guinea-Bissau.
Percy Tau, age 23 (Mamelodi Sundowns): He is quick and pacy, scored his first international goal for South Africa in the friendly game against Guinea-Bissau where he earned only his third cap. Tau who won the CAF champions league with Sundowns and featured at the FIFA club world cup, 2016 is likely to come in as a substitute in the game against Nigeria.
ERIC Mathoho, age 27 (Kaizer Chiefs): The center back is just like Nigeria’s Kenneth Omeruo, most times a very good tackler but do suffer momentary lack of concentration which is a weakness the Eagles should exploit. Kelechi Iheanacho should press him hard because he’s likely to lose the ball when under pressure.
Andile Jali, age 27 (KV Oostende). He is one of South Africa’s most reliable midfielders, made his debut for South Africa in 2010; seven years later he is a mainstay in the Bafana Bafana. He is not much of a goal threat but in the absence of Mikel Obi for Nigeria, Jali will definitely give stand-in captain Ogenyi Onazi something to worry about on Saturday. He fits in well while playing alongside Thulani Serero and Keagan Dolly. For South Africa to win the battles in the middle of the park, they will need Jali to be at his best.
Tebogo Langerman, age 31 (Mamelodi Sundowns): The left back is the weak link in South Africa’s defense. At 31, he is not quick as a defender, also he is not a natural defender but a wing back, most times he is absent minded and he was turned inside out by Guinea Bissau’s Toni Silva on several occasions in their friendly played in March. Rohr should detail Amed Musa on him or bring on Onyekuru to explore his weakness in the second half.
Bunmi Blair is a trained coach and broadcaster. He wrote from Abuja