Why Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki has a lot on his mind

Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki is already looking beyond the international friendlies against Namibia and Zambia at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace this week.

Molefi Ntseki (coach) of Bafana Bafana during the SAFA media briefing at SAFA House on September 19, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

While the Namibians and the Zambians are Bafana’s immediate challenges on Thursday and on Sunday afternoon respectively‚ Ntseki is already thinking about next month’s crucial back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against islanders Sao Tome & Principe.

“Yes we have to play well in the two matches (against Namibia and Zambia)‚ but we’re actually looking beyond the two matches‚” said Ntseki.

“As much as these two friendlies are important‚ (it is the) Sao Tome match (that is more important).”

The outcome of the meetings against Sao Tome are crucial if Bafana are to qualify for the 2021 Afcon in Cameroon‚ a tournament that was part of the mandate issued to Ntseki by his South African Football Association employers after he succeeded Briton Stuart Baxter late last year.

Ntseki served as Baxter’s right hand man when Bafana plodded along during the qualification programme for Afcon 2019 after failing to beat Seychelles‚ drawing 0-0 away from home despite trashing the islanders 6-0 in the home encounter.

That left Bafana with the unenviable task of beating a much stronger Libya (2-1) away from home in the final fixture. It was largely thanks to Percy Tau‚ who scored the two goals‚ that Baxter’s team made it to Egypt where they lost to Nigeria in the quarterfinals.

So it makes sense that Ntseki does not want to go through the same roller coaster ride of emotions and stress he endured with Baxter last year. He simply doesn’t want to go through the same draining drama.

Bafana have already lost one fixture against Ghana in their opening 2021 Afcon qualifier but they managed to bounce back and beat Sudan 1-0 at home to remain on course to securing a qualifying berth to the 24-team tournament in West Africa.

And with regards to Thursday’s outing against Namibia‚ Ntseki said he expects a tough day at the office.

“A very tough team physically‚” the Bafana coach said.

“They play with a lot of enthusiasm and motivation whenever they play against us. We’re expecting a very tough match and I think over the past few days and weeks you’ve seen Namibian players making big moves (in the PSL).

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