By Fred Kaweesi in Durban
South Africa v Morocco
Angola v Cape Verde
BAFANA Bafana’s poor run of results in the last couple of years has been almost as constant as the waves that roll over the Indian Ocean, a few miles from the bustling city of Durban.
If you were one of their critics, like many of the team’s fans here were before that remarkable 2-0 win over Angola, you would be forgiven for waking up on Thursday morning feeling the ocean breeze and wondering if you weren’t locked in some kind of day dream.
The fans in Durban are still trying to come to terms with a result that sent the entire country into ecstasy. And with every ‘Doubting Thomas’ somewhat being coerced into believing that the Bafana Bafana are not as bad as previously preached, the worst possible scenario today should be South Africa losing at the hands of the Moroccans at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The Bafana have to beat the North Africans to win Group A outright and advance to the quarterfinals.
A draw will be enough for South Africa to qualify, although even in defeat, they will go through if Cape Verde fails to beat Angola in Port Elizabeth.
Bafana Bafana don’t want mathematics
But these are permutations, the entire country would want to avoid, especially after those embarrassing scenes that had many questioning the sobriety of South Africans football and those that run it when Bafana players danced around celebrating Nations Cup qualification that never was after playing out to a draw against Sierra Leone.
What South Africa actually needed then was a win to avoid being eliminated on head-to-head results between the three teams tied at the top of the table.
This time around South Africa will have to abandon calculators altogether, as they have shown an inability to use them anyway and set out for a win against Morocco.
Durban has proved a good hunting ground for the hosts. The fans have warmed up to the city just as much as the players.
Coach Gordon Igesund has already earned praise for revitalizing his side after their dreadful start in the opening draw against Cape Verde. He tore apart his starting XI, and the move paid off with the new-look Bafana finding the spirit that reminded many who could remember the class of 1996.
“The fans thought I was panicking when I changed five players. It was a huge, huge gamble, the biggest I have ever taken. I am now focused on Morocco,” Igesund stated.
Igesund’s five changes were inspiring, from Tsepo Masilele, to man-of-the-match Dean Furman.
May Mahlangu, Katlego Mphela and Tokelo Rantie were equally superb.
The pressure is has been building on Morocco, with team head coach Rachid Taussi accused of being elusive and dishonest to the media when discussing his team.
“If we show the same fighting spirit like we displayed in the second half against Cape Verde then we can beat South Africa.”
In the other game, Angola confronts Cape Verde in a battle that pits two former Portuguese colonies.