Bernard Parker has urged his fellow Bafana Bafana strikers to be a tad selfish. It’s a description no player ever wants, but it has become clearly necessary in South Africa’s Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
While Parker and company have been praised for their nifty footwork and attacking play, Bafana have been equally criticised for their failure to turn the creative flair into goals.
Yesterday, the striker said coach Shakes Mashaba had asked his strikers to try avoid walking the ball into the net in their do-or-die encounter against Ghana tomorrow night.
Bafana are bottom of Group C, with one point from two matches, and need to beat the Black Stars and hope Senegal do the same against Algeria to progress to the quarterfinals.
If both South Africa and Algeria win, Bafana will be level on points with Senegal and goal difference will determine who finish runners-up behind the Desert Foxes.
“We are good as South African players in combining well and clicking in the final third. That is our strength. But I don’t think we take the initiative,” Parker said.
“Maybe we are not aggressive enough. We try to play to our strength by trying to combine, and sometimes we do a bit too much, making too many passes, and the opposition win back the ball.
“Maybe we need an aggressive approach this time and to shoot more often. We tend to overdo it in the last third.”
Parker, Bafana’s third all-time top scorer, came off the bench in their 1-1 draw against Senegal on Friday.
He admitted that Bafana had woken up too late to the reality that they would head home early if they did not take their chances.
“We have learnt a lot from what has happened. We got tested. We know now what is happening.
“The coach has asked us when are we going to shoot. He’s been stressing on that and it is just up to us players to choose our moments. Furman had a shot [against Algeria] that hit the crossbar, and some guys have seen shots go wide or on target. Maybe we could get lucky from a corner or a rebound.”
Mashaba’s big concern is not just the front line after yet another defender, Thulani Hlatshwayo, was substituted early at the weekend, forcing him out of the Ghana clash.
In last night’s Afcon matches, Equatorial Guinea beat Gabon 2-0, Congo beat Burkina Faso 2-1.
– Mazola Molefe