Bafana Bafana play their first competitive match in a year when they confront the Atlantic Ocean islanders in Durban
South Africa coach Molefi Ntseki will be out to prove that he is the right man for the job when he leads Bafana Bafana in a 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sao Tome e Principe at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday.
Following inconsistent results in both competitive and international friendlies, since he took over the reins in August 2019, the pressure is increasingly mounting on the coach.
The bid to qualify for the Afcon finals to be staged in Cameroon comes as the perfect test for Ntseki’s credentials after he defended the team’s struggles in friendly games.
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After two rounds of matches, Bafana are currently placed second in Group C, and are keen to win this match as well as the return fixture in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
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Positive results against Sao Tome will set South Africa up for a top finish in this group which also includes leaders Ghana and third-placed Sudan.
The last time Molefi Ntseki and his men were involved in a competitive fixture was November 17, 2019 when they edged Sudan 1-0 in their only win of the campaign so far.
|Game||South Africa vs Sao Tome e Principe|
|Date||Friday, November 13|
|Time||21:00 SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
The game will be shown live on SuperSport TV and SABC.
|Online Streaming||TV Channel|
|DStv.com/DStv Now App/Channel 191||SABC 1|
Squads & Team News
It turned out to be a hectic week for Ntseki who had to deal with seven withdrawals from the squad.
The Cape Town City duo of Thamsanqa Mkhize and Abubakar Mobara could not join the camp as they are self-isolating after testing positive for coronavirus.
SuperSport United forward Bradley Grobler, Portugal-based defender Thibang Phete, Thulani Serero, Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Andile Jali and Kaizer Chiefs right-back Reeve Frosler all pulled out due to injuries.
This saw the coach turning to Orlando Pirates’ Vincent Pule as well as the Sundowns duo of defender Mosa Lebusa and utility player Thapelo Morena as replacements.
AmaZulu midfielder Siyethemba Sithebe, Thabo Nodada and Bloemfontein Celtic centre-back Tshepo Rikhotso were also called-up in place of the withdrawals.
What could be the biggest headache for Ntseki in plotting against his opponents is that not much is not known about the Sao Tome players.
Most of their players ply their trade in the lower leagues of Portuguese football, especially at amateur level
However, veteran forward Luis Leal of Mexican side Club Tijuana could pose the biggest threat to Bafana Bafana.
Another striker, Harramiz, has two goals – the last being on Sunday – in four games for Portuguese second-tier side GD Estoril Praia and could cause problems for the Thulani Hlatshwayo-marshalled Bafana defence.
Left-back Jardel Nazare, who turns out for FC Saburtalo Tbilisi in the Georgian top-flight league, is another high-profile player for Sao Tome.
All these players featured in their last Group C against Ghana in which they lost 1-0 at home.
Bafana’s inconsistency under Ntseki is the major talking point going into Friday’s contest.
With Ntseki in charge, South Africa have managed just two victories, a draw and two defeats in all competitions.
After going down 2-0 away in Ghana in their Group C opener, before edging Sudan 1-0 in another match, Bafana find themselves placed second in this pool.
Lebogang Phiri’s goal against Sudan at home is the only one South Africa have managed in this campaign so far, something that throws into question the forwards’ capabilities.
The team goes into Friday’s match on the backdrop of a two-match winless run; a 1-1 draw against Namibia and a 2-1 defeat by Zambia in October’s international friendlies.
In the absence of Grobler, Luther Singh who scored against Namibia, Kermit Erasmus and Percy Tau provide hope for goals.
As for Sao Tome, they arrived in South Africa having not played friendlies to prepare for this trip, with their last match being the 1-0 defeat by Ghana in November 2019.
This result was preceded by a 4-0 drubbing by Sudan as they now languish at the bottom of the group, having failed to find the back of the net and conceded five goals in two matches.