I think the Bafana Bafana of South Africa deserve some flowers now that they can still smell the third place at the ongoing AFCON.
These Hugo Broos’ lads played one of their greatest matches on Wednesday as they dominated possession against a resilient Nigeria’s squad, the Super Eagles.
Broos’ tactics broke Nigeria’s defence, exposed the Super Eagles’ shortcomings and created some chances but luck refused to smile at the South Africans.
The Bafana Bafana protested when there was a need to do so for a penalty that would erase Victor Osimhen’s goal.
However, it was their tactics that eventually killed them. Their “Delaying Tactics” boomeranged when they played a more experienced Super Eagles’ side.
They slowed down the pace of the game so that they could catch the Super Eagles unaware, they rolled the ball in their half, waiting for penalty shootout that had favoured them in their previous match.
Banking on their goalkeeper, Ronwen Williams, to save them, their tactics backfired with a 2-4 loss to Super Eagles via penalty shootout.
On Wednesday, it was the Super Eagles who adjusted after soaking up the heat from the Bafana Bafana with the withdrawal of Osimhen and introduction of Terem Moffi who nearly got a penalty for Nigeria.
Bafana Bafana’s delaying tactics made Nigeria to steal the ball in the midfield with a pass to Moffi but his goalbound effort was neutralised. Of course the defender saw a red, reducing South Africa to ten.
Credit must go to the Super Eagles’ Coach, Jose Peseiro for providing necessary antidotes to the rampaging Bafana Bafana when he introduced Kelechi Iheanacho who scored the winning penalty to qualify Nigeria for the AFCON final.
But then Bafana deserve their flowers for not only played good football, for also reminding us that Nigeria must begin to look for a creative midfielder after AFCON.
Peseiro has improvised in the midfield to get us thus far, using 5-3-2 formation to counter every opposition he has played in this tournament.
It shows in our ball possession and lesser number of passes to our pointman, Osimhen, who had laboured too much in this tournament.
AlHassan Yusuf that gave us signs of relief in the midfield played so deep against South Africa that he caused us a penalty.
He is not experienced enough. The coach should either continue to work on him or look for a more creative and strong midfielder.
In all, one can only congratulate Super Eagles for fighting a good fight and qualifying for the final.
However, the Bafana Bafana deserve their flowers for a job well done.
By Kunle Awosiyan