No respite for Bafana as Sudan lie in wait

TESTING TIMES: The South African soccer side will face a tough challenge when they take on Sudan on Sunday in an African Cup of Nations qualifier
TESTING TIMES: The South African soccer side will face a tough challenge when they take on Sudan on Sunday in an African Cup of Nations qualifier
Image: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images

Having just returned from a meek loss away to Ghana‚ any thoughts that Sudan might provide some respite for Bafana Bafana in Sunday’s second 2021 Africa Cup of Nations soccer qualifier at Orlando Stadium should be firmly put aside.

The Sudanese have been impressive in their recovery from a horror spell in recent times and are especially adept on the road‚ where their ability to soak up pressure and hit teams on the counterattack has engineered some notable results.

There is‚ perhaps‚ not too much to read into Wednesday’s 4-0 home hammering of minnows Sao Tome and Principe as Sudan played against 10 men for 68 minutes after the first-half dismissal for Sao Tome goalkeeper Aldair D’Almeida.

But it did give the side an extra 24 hours to prepare for Sunday’s encounter‚ as opposed to the mad dash of Bafana Bafana back from Ghana’s Cape Coast that saw them arrive home only late on Friday afternoon.

After a narrow 1-0 loss to Nations Cup runners-up Senegal in 2018, Sudan’s last three away games have all resulted in wins‚ including an impressive 3-1 success at a vastly improved Madagascar.

They also won in Chad (3-1) and Tanzania (1-0)‚ and while Bafana should present a greater challenge than those two‚ it is a sign of some consistency that had been missing in previous years.

Sudan’s Croatian coach, Zdravko Logarušić, has rejuvenated the side in the last 18 months and refreshed the squad‚ bringing in a number of younger players.

It is still mostly selected from the big two in the country‚ Al-HIlal and Al-Merrikh‚ but the addition of teenager Mowafaq Aadil and Romania-based Yasin Hamed provides a new dimension.

Logarušić has coached in Africa for the last decade at clubs in Ghana‚ Kenya and Angola. He will know the SA style well and have a plan to counter it.

SA may be the better side on paper‚ but Sudan will bring good organisation and a fighting spirit in the knowledge that a victory‚ or even a point‚ in Orlando will be a major fillip in their attempt to spring a surprise in the pool.

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