Bafana Bafana soccer coach Shakes Mashaba is hardly one to look for a scapegoat, but it was almost impossible not to single out Tokelo Rantie for his missed penalty in Monday night’s 3-1 defeat to Algeria in their Africa Cup of Nations Group C opener.
With South Africa having taken the lead in the 51st minute, Rantie had a chance to put the match beyond Algeria’s reach when Bafana were awarded a penalty not long after they had broken the deadlock.
He struck the woodwork and, according to Mashaba and defender Thulani Hlatshwayo, Bafana were immediately on the backfoot.
Although he agreed with his coach and teammate, captain Dean Furman did try to shield Rantie after the match.
Asked if Rantie was the intended penalty taker for SA, the midfielder said the team would have backed anyone to convert the spot kick.
“We won the penalty and TK picked up the ball. He is our striker, he was confident and we had a 100% confidence in him. He went for the top corner and sadly it hit the top of the bar,” Furman said. “I am sure if the next penalty arrives, TK is a confident player and I am sure he will be there with his hand up to take it.”
Mashaba lamented the missed spot kick, saying it was responsible for his team going into their shell.
“We were all over this team and should have killed them easily. But when we missed the penalty that is when I realised that a serious threat is coming because we all looked down. That is where you see good players,” Mashaba said.
If Bafana had been clinical, Mashaba said, tournament favourites Algeria would have been exposed.
“We made them look ordinary, and the chances we missed are tap-in goals, and you don’t have to struggle to put them away. But we missed all of them. It was worse when we missed the penalty,” Mashaba said .
Hlatshwayo, who put the ball in his own net to hand Algeria the equaliser, said Bafana only had themselves to blame.
“I honestly think we brought this on ourselves. We had a lot of chances but could not convert them.”
– Mazola Molefe