Bafana Bafana face Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations quarters on Wednesday evening and coach Stuart Baxter will be hoping they can reproduce the performance which knocked out hosts Egypt. DEAN WORKMAN explores the possibilities.
Baxter chopped and changed his side at the beginning of the tournament, making several changes after his side’s 1-0 opening game loss against Ivory Coast. Darren Keet replaced Ronwen Williams in goal, while midfielder duo Kamohelo Mokotjo and Dean Furman made way for Bongani Zungu and Hlompho Kekana and Sibusiso Vilakazi came in for his Mamelodi Sundowns teammate Lebohang Maboe and Bafana went on to clinch a tight 1-0 win over Namibia.
The Bafana coach then brought Mokotjo back in for the clash with Morocco, while also handing Thulani Serero his first taste of action in the tournament as the South Africans conceded a late goal to lose 1-0 to Morocco, but still managed to scrape through to the knockout stages.
— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) July 10, 2019
The British coach then again changed things around for their mammoth clash with Egypt, switching to a 4-3-3 and playing a midfield three of Zungu, Furman and Mokotjo while Thembinkosi Lorch came in for the suspended Themba Zwane.
It proved to be a masterstroke as Baxter’s tactics did the job with Lorch netting a late winner to book them a spot in the last eight against Nigeria.
With Zwane back from suspension, Baxter will face a selection headache after Lorch’s standout performance in the game against the Pharaohs.
‘When we hit that balance between good organisation and still getting the ball in play and playing with pace‚ and closing people down at pace‚ and using the natural inherent ability and technique‚ we can give anybody on this continent a good game. Therefore we go into every game knowing that we have the chance to win and the chance to lose. And that is how we’ll approach this game,’ said Baxter in the buildup.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 9, 2019
Getting the balance right is key and after such a complete performance against Egypt it’s hard to see Baxter changing his lineup for the Nigeria clash, unless he has a tactical change in mind.
Predicted Bafana starting XI
GK: Ronwen Williams
RB: Thami Mkhize
CB: Thulani Hlatshwayo
CB: Buhle Mkhwanazi
LB: Sfiso Hlanti
RCM: Bongani Zungu
CM: Dean Furman
LCM: Kamohelo Mokotjo
RW: Thembinkhosi Lorch
LW: Percy Tau
ST: Lebo Mothiba
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