Lack of conditioning hurt — Mkhalele

Ashley Cupido of Bafana Bafana during the Cosafa Cup match against Eswatini at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha
Ashley Cupido of Bafana Bafana during the Cosafa Cup match against Eswatini at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha

A lack of mental and physical conditioning played a role in his team not progressing to the knockout stages of the Cosafa Cup, Bafana Bafana coach Helman Mkhalele said.

Bafana were bundled out of the Hollywoodbets Cosafa Cup despite a 1-0 victory over Eswatini in their final group match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium  in Gqeberha on Tuesday. 

Mkhalele’s full squad only assembled on the Sunday before the tournament started so it was difficult to get a full scope of where his players were at in terms of mental and physical fitness.

“They couldn’t cope because of their lack of fitness at this level, however, when you come up against teams that had more time in camp and maybe fitter than you, you are always trying to be cautious, trying to reserve some energy, perhaps that could be a reason we get off to fast starts and then the intensity dropped,’ he said.

Having shared the spoils with Mozambique (1-1) and Botswana (0-0) in their opening two fixtures, the hosts’ win was ultimately not enough to see them finish as group leaders after the Mambas’ 3-1 win over a 10-man Botswana, which also kicked off at 3pm but at the Wolfson Stadium. 

The home side missed the chance to finish as the best second-placed team, owing to Kenya being on six points after their 2-0 wins over the competition’s two most successful sides in Zambia and Zimbabwe alongside a solitary defeat against Group B winners Comoros.

Mkhalele’s men got a goal in the third-minute courtesy of forward Thabang Sibanyoni, however, they could not sustain the early intensity, and struggled to contain the expansive, swift football Eswatini began to play. 

Despite the disappointment in their early exit, the former Bafana midfielder was proud of the character his players displayed.

“We took our foot off the pedal by not coping with the speed they played at and coming inside, we struggled a lot in the middle because we were too quick to jump [into a tackle] which left spaces in behind in our defence. 

“Once we corrected that, it became a bit easier for us to deal with their combinations in the middle, playing balls in behind and running into spaces. 

“Having said that, we were able to go forward and create some clear-cut chances which we never made use of. 

“I am still proud of the effort, character, and humility of these boys and it is sad that we are unable to advance to the next round,” Mkhalele said after the match.

Mkhalele said despite it being a hard lesson, it was one they had to learn as a team and as individuals. 



Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.