Bafana Bafana were unconvincing drawing 1-1 in their final Group M 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Mauritania at Mbombela Stadium on Friday night.
Bafana player ratings:
Itumeleng Khune – 4 – In a game where there where six shots at goal from both sides‚ Khune had the easier evening of the three keepers (Mauritania played two‚ Mohamed Boubacar substituting injured Brahim Soulyemane at half time). Generally he covered his area well. For early Mauritania’s goal‚ Khune was left unsighted for a crucial split-second as Diallo Guideye’s shot went through Ramahlwe Mphahlele’s legs. Still‚ a keeper of Khune’s class‚ at his best level‚ might have done better – this has not been a good qualifying campaign overall for Chiefs’ keeper.
Abbubaker Mobara – 6 – He appears best utilised in defence. Bafana’s man-of-the match’s positioning in at right-back‚ timing of his runs forward‚ his vision and ability to put in a good cross‚ all made for yet another good showing from the Olympic star on his debut for Shakes Mashaba’s full-strength senior team. Perhaps‚ too‚ given it was their first real senior match‚ he and Olympic team-mate winger Aubrey Modiba had a little more to prove than anyone else in this dead rubber.
Ramahlwe Mphahlele – 4 – He let the ball through his legs for Mauritania’s opener‚ but there was not too much Chiefs’ new defender could have done about it. Mphahlele’s best position is right-back. He had a solid enough game alongside Thulani Hlatshwayo at centreback‚ though‚ like the rest of SA’s back four‚ was caught out of position for Mauritania’s breakaway for Guideye’s goal. Improved as the game went on.
Thulani Hlatshwayo – 5 – The captain on the night could not make the crucial intercept for the killer pass that led to Guideye’s goal. At times Hlatshwayo’s toughness in defence and ability to stand up in a challenge was lost amidst the Bafana back four being a bit all over the place. This improved markedly in the second half‚ and so did the Bidvest Wits man.
Tebogo Langerman – 5 – The Sundowns man enhanced his credentials for Bafana’s left-back position. On current form he and Wits’ Sifiso Hlanti‚ who was on the bench‚ can keep the defensively frail Thabo Matlaba out of the squad. Langerman is capable of reading the game well‚ is in form‚ times his runs‚ and‚ like Matlaba‚ has experience playing on the wing‚ so adds attacking value.
Mpho Makola – 5 – His usual linking self‚ coming inside from the wing to make himself available for passes in and around the box. Also getting into the box and into scoring positions‚ such as when he had the close-range shot at goal blocked that led to the dubious penalty awarded for hand-ball. Unfortunately all that hard work was undone by Thamsanqa Gabuza’s miss from the spot-kick.
Hlompo Kekana – 4 – Did not impose himself well in the first half-hour in defensive midfield‚ though gradually Kekana muscled the dangerous Mauritanian runners off the ball and began to protect his back four. Could have done more initiating and joining in the attacks. Had a decent shot from range that came close.
Andile Jali – 5 – He tried to provide energy and creativity play just in front of Kekana in central midfield. Jali seldom has a poor game for Bafana. Might have been a bit more forceful‚ and linked better around the Mauritanian penalty area. Could have combined better with deep striker Sibusiso Vilakazi.
Maphosa Modiba – 5 – This young man – signed by SuperSport United from Cape Town City two days before the game – continues to impress with his work-rate and dynamism on the flank. He’s a get-stuck-in sort of winger‚ not afraid to mix it in the physical stakes‚ who always has plenty left in his lungs to get back and defend‚ or stream forward in attack.
Sibusiso Vilakazi – 4 – Struggled to combine with Jali behind him. As the link-man between midfield and Gabuza in attack‚ ‘Vila’ did not always provide that bridge. He needs game time for new club Sundowns to be back to his best.
Thamsanqa Gabuza – 3 – Critics will say this is why picking a striker who has played five games in seven months for his club‚ Orlando Pirates‚ is so risky. Gabuza might always perform better for national team than club‚ and he scored a brace in the last qualifier against Gambia in June‚ a 4-0 win‚ to silence critics of his selection then. He was noticeably out of touch on Friday night. He needs game time – and hopefully also goals – at Bucs to find some sort of form. Missing the 56th-minute penalty earned by Makola just made it worse.
Dean Furman (for Kekana‚ 67th) – 5 – Brought greater urgency into the game than Kekana had shown. Pressed the Mauritanians high and rattled them with his work rate.
Tokelo Rantie (for Gabuza‚ 60th) – 3 – One out-of-form striker who has barely played a competitive game at club level for months replaced another‚ and the results were about the same.
Gift Motupa (for Vilakazi‚ 83rd) – 4 – Did not have much time to make an impression‚ though also did not quite add the impetus in the final 10 minutes Mashaba might have hope for.
– TMG Digital/TMG Sport