Bafana aim to revive World Cup hopes

Stuart Baxter

Stuart Baxter

SOUTH AFRICA will welcome Burkina Faso in a 2018 Fifa World Cup Qualification (Caf) Group D match at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg today.
Kick-off is at 3PM.

Bafana Bafana’s hopes of qualifying for the finals suffered a blow as they lost 2-1 to Cape Verde in their previous Group D match in Durban last month.

Furthermore, Fifa ordered a replay of the qualification between South Africa and Senegal held on November 12, 2016. This was after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the lifetime ban of match referee Joseph Lamptey, who was in charge of the game which was won 2-1 by Bafana in Polokwane.

As a result, South Africa are placed fourth on the group standings with one point from three matches. They are five points behind group leaders, Burkina Faso, who have played four games. Bafana can only qualify if they win all of their remaining games and hope that the other results go their way.

Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter is wary of Burkina Faso, who are undefeated in Group D, but the British tactician believes that his side can secure a victory over the Stallions.

“Now we have got to put things right against Burkina Faso. Without confidence‚ I do not think that we will do that,” Baxter said.

Bafana will be without central defenders Erick Mathoho (suspension) and Thulani Hlatshwayo (injured) and Baxter has called up Clayton Daniels and Motjeka Madisha as their replacements. Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune will captain the team in Hlatshwayo’s absence.

“They are a good team and I think that they are the best team in the group. I’ve watched their games against Senegal (the two teams drew 2-2 and 0-0) and they were very competitive in both games. I think they were closer to winning those games than Senegal were,” he continued.

“They are a powerful team‚ they are a physical team and they have got certain players with extreme qualities. We have got to shut that down and we have got to give them the sort of game they do not really want.”

Meanwhile, Burkina Faso kept their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup when they fought back to hold Senegal to a 2-2 draw at home last month.

The draw left the Stallions at the top of the Group D standings with six points from four matches. They are only ahead of second-placed Cape Verde on goal-difference with two games left.

Burkina Faso head coach Paulo Duarte is unhappy with Fifa’s decision to order a replay between Bafana and Senegal, but he remains hopeful that his team can make history by qualifying for the World Cup for the first time as Group D winners.

“We have a chance‚ yes. But before I say anything else let me say that any team in this group can qualify. Burkina Faso have first place‚ but we have to win the next match. And the next match is against South Africa,” Duarte said.

“I need to play to win my remaining two matches. South Africa will play to win all their remaining matches, just like Cape Verde, and then we have to wait and see what happens with Senegal.

Patrick Malo replaced fellow defender Yacouba Coulibaly, who is injured, in the Burkina Faso squad. Bertrand Traore, who scored for the Stallions against Senegal last month, is expected to lead the team’s attack on Saturday.

“In my head and my spirit, if I win these two matches I will qualify. If Senegal win their three matches, they would have qualified through the secretary (boardroom). The history will say that Burkina Faso were the best in this group. The papers might say another reality,” the Portuguese tactician added.

“Fifa shouldn’t punish three teams – Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and South Africa – because a referee made one mistake. That’s part of football.” — SuperSport

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