Bafana coach to bring Tau, other stars in against Zambia

Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki speaks to his players during the international friendly against Namibia on Thursday at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, in Rustenburg. The game ended 1-1.
LABOURED DRAW: Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki speaks to his players during the international friendly against Namibia on Thursday at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, in Rustenburg. The game ended 1-1.

Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki will ring the changes and bring on the more experienced players when the national team meet Zambia at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Sunday‚ two days after drawing 1-1 in their first friendly against Namibia at the same venue.

Ntseki named Percy Tau as the player to come in against Chipolopolo‚ but Thulani Hlatshwayo‚ Themba Zwane‚ Darren Keet and Andile Jali also seem likely to start.

“Percy Tau was rested and the rest of the guys who were rested for today’s match will feature on Sunday‚” Ntseki said after Thursday night’s game, in which Bafana faded and lacked cohesion going forward, labouring to a draw against their neighbours.

Bafana took a 1-0 lead via Luther Singh but as the game progressed, they could not continue to press home an advantage and get more goals‚ nor defend their slender lead.

The Brave Warriors got their equaliser 10 minutes after the restart, with Absalom Limbondi benefiting after Bafana’s central defenders Mosa Lebusa and debutant Thibang Phete were caught square‚ allowing the Namibian to squeeze the ball between the legs of Bafana Bafana keeper Ronwen Williams.

In the absence of regular skipper Hlatshwayo‚ Bafana Bafana looked shaky at times at the back.

His presence against the more dangerous Zambians‚ who are coached by former Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic‚ could be key in bringing much-needed leadership and stability.

The two friendlies mark Bafana Bafana’s return to soccer after 11 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic‚ and serve as preparation for November’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe.

Commenting on the goal that Bafana Bafana conceded, Ntseki acknowledged that his charges were getting tired‚ had lost concentration‚ and had become more anxious and frustrated by the ever-running Namibians as the game went on.

“Like I said when I talked about the energy levels‚ they [Lebusa and Phete] did very well in the first half‚” said Ntseki‚ whose record on the Bafana Bafana bench after the Namibia game is two wins‚ one loss and one draw.

“There was no threat in the first half.

“I think it was one ball that was played behind the defence and I think [Peter] Shalulile tried to put it in at the far post and it went out.

“That was the only opportunity they had in the first half.

“But when you look at the second half they were playing more of the long balls and we dealt very well in the first half with the long balls.

“But when you start getting tired the concentration levels go down‚ and when you look at the goal we conceded‚ it’s just a question of concentration levels having gone down.

“But if you look at how Phete and Lebusa played in the first half‚ I think they did well with the complement that they got from Innocent Maela and Abbubaker Mobara.”

Ntseki said most of the local players were not 100% fit‚ having only had two training sessions to prepare before the match, and that had not helped.

“If you look at the early stages of the game we did well.

“But towards the end of the first half you could see some players starting to cramp.

“At halftime we were made aware that we needed to replace some of the players with immediate effect and we could understand because of the level of fitness‚ especially for our local players.

“But if you look at the whole game‚ I think there were moments that we did very well in terms of our tactical plan‚ out of possession and in possession‚ but unfortunately we’re not happy with the result.

“We wanted to win this one and get confidence going forward.

“But you don’t win the game by not scoring goals‚ you win the game by scoring goals and defending well and not conceding,” he said.

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