I start my countdown to AFCON 2013 with Gordon Igesund’s Bafana Bafana who spent most of their history in relative obscurity as CAF expelled them from all CAF organized competitions because of the apartheid.
The performance of the Bafana Bafana, who will be competing in their 8th competition, in the Africa Cup of Nations has been very poor since their Championship winning side in 1996; the last time and only time they won it.
Bafana who are ranked 87th (23rd in Africa) in the FIFA/Coca Cola World Ranking will play warm-up games against Norway on 8 January and Algeria four days later, before the opening match of the tournament against Cape Verde at Soccer City in Johannesburg on 19 January.
Also drawn in the group are Morocco, ranked 74th in the world and 2010 Afcon hosts Angola, ranked 84th.
Cape Verde Islands
Both meetings between South Africa and Cape Verde have been in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Bafana Bafana won both games 2-1 ( 4-2 on aggregate ).
• 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualfier
• June 5, 2004: South Africa 2, Cape Verde Islands 1 (Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein)
• June 4, 2005: Cape Verde Islands 1, South Africa 2 (Estadio da Varzea in Praia)
Morocco and South Africa have met in 3 Africa Cup of Nations. Bafana Bafana has never lost to Morocco in these games (2 wins and 1 draw).Morocco, champions in 1976, regulars at AFCON championships, are very unpredictable. Their fortunes hinge on which Morocco team shows up in South Africa. If they can get their act together, they could make the battle for quarter-final places very interesting.
• AFCON 1998
• February 22, 1998: South Africa 2, Morocco 1( Stade Municipal in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso)
• AFCON 2002
• January 30, 2002: South Africa 3, Morocco 1 (Stade Amari Daou in Segou, Mali)
• AFCON 2004
• February 4, 2004: South Africa 1, Morocco 1 (Stade Olympique de Sousse in Sousse, Tunisia)
Palancas Negras is expected to provide much sterner tests for the 1996 champions than the Blue Sharks. Angola have never beaten South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations. The last time these two sides met in Ghana it was a 1-1 draw. Angola’s goalscorer that night Manucho is part of this Angolan side.
• AFCON 1996
• January 20, 1996: South Africa 1, Angola 0 (Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg)
• AFCON 1998
• February 8, 1998: South Africa 0, Angola 0 (Stade Municipal in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso)
• AFCON 2000 qualifiers
• October 3, 1998: South Africa 1, Angola 0 (Johannesburg)
• June 20, 1999: Angola 2, South Africa 2 (Luanda)
• AFCON 2008
• January 23, 2008: South Africa 1, Angola 1 (Tamale Stadium in Tamale, Ghana)
DISASTER| The Mighty Have Fallen
South Africa finished bottom of group D in Ghana after two draws and one loss, which was, at least, an improvement over the 2006 campaign. Bafana drew 1-1 with both Angola and Senegal, and lost 3-1 to Tunisia.
PAST RECORD IN THE AFCON
1957 Disqualified because of apartheid
1959 Banned 1990 Banned
1962 Banned 1992 Banned
1963 Banned 1994 Did not qualify
1965 Banned 1996 Winners
1968 Banned 1998 Second place
1970 Banned 2000 Third place
1972 Banned 2002 Quarter Final
1974 Banned 2004 Group Stage
1976 Banned 2006 Group Stage
1978 Banned 2008 Group Stage
1980 Banned 2010 Did not qualify
1982 Banned 2012 Did not qualify
1984 Banned 2013 Qualified as host nation
WINNER| Gordon Igesund
”It is a dream side that I believe can do us justice at the tournament”-Igesund, Bafana Bafana coach
PSL champion : (Manning Rangers) 1996/97,(Orlando Pirates) 2000/01,(Santos) 2001/02,(Sundowns) 2006/07
2000 BP Top Eight Cup winner (Orlando Pirates)
2007 SAA Supa 8 winner (Sundowns)
Gordon Igesund (56) arguably has his favourites but crucially form has, for the most part, been the determining factor in his selections – hence the inspired decision to recall the enigmatic Mphela – and that has been key to the restoration of confidence and belief among players and supporters alike. He has also named Netherlands-based Thulani Serero, despite the midfielder not having played since September.
On 30 June 2012, Gordon Igesund (56) was appointed as the South Africa national team coach on a two-year deal. Igesund knew when he accepted the opportunity to succeed Pitso Mosimane as Bafana Bafana coach after South Africa’s 1-1 draw against 138th ranked Ethiopia in a 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier that he would have a massive job on his hands. However, just how big only became evident as Bafana Bafana failed to win their last 7 games under Mosimane as they struggled to find the back of the net. During Mosimane’s tenure, Bafana failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations after team management misinterpreted the rules, assuming they needed to draw their last match, a must-win encounter, to reach the continental showpiece.
AFCON2013 will be the former Moroka Swallows coach’s first international tournament. A prolific striker during his heyday, Igesund holds the record for being the only man to coach four different top-flight teams to the South African Premier Soccer League championship.
Igesund played for African Wanderers , Durban United, Highlands Park, Durban Bush Bucks, AmaZulu,Durban City, D’Alberton Callies, and also in Austria for GAK and Admira Wacker.
He led Manning Rangers to the inaugural PSL title in the 1996/97 season. He won another title in the 2000/01 season with another title with Soweto giants Orlando Pirates. Igesund was not popular with the Pirates faithful despite his success with the Buccaneers and left.
He proved his critics wrong the very next season, winning the PSL title with Cape Town’s Santos in 2002. He moved to Ajax Cape Town where he had a less successful spell. Igesund added to his record number of PSL titles leading Sundowns to a comfortable PSL win in 2007.
Igesund took Moroka Swallows, a team who was even struggling to stay in the PSL the previous season, to second place in the 2011/12 season. He won the PSL Coach of the Year Award for the second time. Igesund announced his 23-man squad in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon with seven of the players being foreign-based.
Igesund said he was prepared to gamble on Serero’s fitness because of the match-winning ability of the 22-year-old from Ajax Amsterdam. Those left out are Thanduyise Khuboni, Teko Modise, Andile Jali, Daine Klate, Sifiso Myeni and Delron Buckley.
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa (Kaizer Chiefs), Bongani Khumalo (PAOK Salonika, Greece), Tsepo Masilela (Kaizer Chiefs), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk, Belgium), Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic), Siyabonga Sangweni (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace, England), Dean Furman (Oldham Athletic, England), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), May Mahlangu (Helsingborg, Sweden), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Thuso Phala (Platinum Stars), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)
Strikers: Lehlohonolo Majoro (Kaizer Chiefs), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo FF, Sweden), Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs).
LEADER| Bongani Khumalo
”There is a good spirit here and I believe there are good players too from what I have seen forom just a few minutes of training”- Bongani Khumalo
PSL champions : 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 with Supersport United
Defender Bongani Sandile Khumalo (25) , will undoubtedly form one part of the two central defensive backs. The Bafana Bafana captain, since the retirement of Steven Pienaar from international football, made his international debut against Zimbabwe in 2008. Manzini born (in Swaziland) Khumalo is the third player born outside South Africa to play for Bafana Bafana. He has also played for the national Under-23 side. His only international goal was against France as South Africa finished their 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign with a 2–1 win. He has earned 32 caps for South Africa. ‘Bongas’ was named in the South African squad for the 2009 Confederations Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup, both in South Africa. His mother died during the 2009 Confederations Cup.
He currently he plies his trade in Greece with PAOK Salonika on loan from Tottenham Hotspurs. Khumalo went through the academy of Arcadia Shepherds before opting to sign for University of Pretoria in 2005 where he made 50 appearances scoring four times. He signed for SuperSport United in 2007 and won three consecutive League titles with Matsatsantsa, and captained the side from 2009.He made a name for himself at SuperSport United before making the move to Europe.
His best attributes are his ability to read the game, often breaking up attacks. He also provides an extra option in attack at set-pieces because of his height and ability to head a ball well.
After the World Cup, Scottish Premier League club Rangers expressed interest in signing him, along with Katlego Mphela, but Tottenham Hotspur and SuperSport had reached an agreement, subject to a work permit for a fee of £1.5 million.
Khumalo has struggled to make his mark at White Hart Lane, and has spent time on loan at Championship clubs Preston North End and Reading, before moving to Greece for a loan deal at PAOK.
SOWETO’S GEM| Siphiwe Tshabalala
”For someone my age, I need assistance to stand up, but when Siphiwe scored that goal, I had the energy to jump up and celebrate.”
- John Tshabalala, the Bafana star’s 91-year-old grandfather
Baymed Cup winner (Free State Stars): 2006
MTN 8 winner (Kaizer Chiefs):2008
Vodacom Challenge winner (Kaizer Chiefs): 2009
Telkom Charity Cup winner (Kaizer Chiefs):2010
Telkom Knockout winner (Kaizer Chiefs): 2007, 2010, 2011
2010 Safa Footballer of the Year
Lawrence Siphiwe Tshabalala (28) will be remembered for scoring the opening goal at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa against Mexico,a game that ended in a 1-1 draw.That game was his 50th game for South Africa. I felt so proud to be African when ‘Tshaba’ wonderful left foot strike beat El Tri goalie.I still can’t describe that feeling. The 2010 Safa Footballer of the Year’s goal later received a nomination for goal of the year by FIFA.
The midfielder has collected an impressive array of honours during his career at the top. Aside from being part of the team that won the 2008 MTN 8,he has also won the Telkom Knockout three times and 2009 Vodacom Challenge.
A veteran midfielder of 2 Africa Cup of Nations finals, Tshabalala will be one of the first names on the team sheet for Bafana Bafana at AFCON2013, having featured in every one of his side’s matches in qualifying.Tshabalala was part of the South African squad at 2006 African Nations Cup, 2008 African Nations Cup and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
While regulars of the national team down the years, including Teko Modise, have been unable to hold down their place in the team,Tshabalala remains a key figure under Igesund.
Tshabalala played at the Kaizer Chiefs academy but only broke through to the senior team after spells with Alexandra United and Free State Stars. He started his professional career as a 19-year-old with Alexandra United in 2003. He moved to Free State Stars the following season, where he would turn in some fine displays over the next three years. Kaizer Chiefs brought him back to Johannesburg in 2007 where he became a key player for Amakhosi playing as a left wingback.
Tshabalala can strike the ball from distance and is deadly from set-pieces. He has remained a consistent performer for his country, since making his national team debut in a friendly against Egypt on 14 January 2006.He has scored 10 goals in 70 games for South Africa.
KILLER | Katlego Mphela
“If there is anyone better than Mphela, I want that name. All the coaches and journalists must give me that name. We need that name. It’s a fact Mphela is the best we have.”- Pitso Mosimane
PSL Rookie of the Year : 2006
PSL Players’ Player of the Season :2010
Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot Award: 2010
Mamelodi Sundowns’ Katlego Abel Mphela (28) has been injured for most part of the season but the prolific goalscorer for club and country has netted 2 times in 4 PSL games.The Brazilian’s prolific goal-scorer returned from injury with goals against Black Leopards and Wits University, continuing Pitso Mosimane’s unbeaten start as Mamelodi Sundowns coach.His hunger for goals has been insatiable at times. South Africa’s ‘Adrian Mutu’ who has been arrested for drunk driving before, has scored 40 goals for the Brazilians in his last three seasons. He has been capped 47 times for Bafana, scoring 23 goals and scored 18 goals in his last 29 starts for Bafana Bafana. This has earned him the nickname Killer for his finishing ability.Mphela’s qualities set him apart from many strikers plying their trade in Africa. He has scored in every international competition for South Africa since 2008. He is a defender’s nightmare with both pace and strength but he can still play deep as a supporting striker.
He is 9 goals shy of Benni McCarthy’s all time record and can break it if he stays fit.He already has Africa Cup of Nations experience (2006 and 2008) as he scored South Africa’s only goal in the 3–1 defeat to Tunisia in the 2008 edition. Mphela scored a brace on his international debut against Seychelles in February 2005 but burst onto the international scene in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup third-place playoff against Spain. Coming in as a substitute Mphela produced arguably the goal of the tournament with a free kick from 30 yards, which turned out to be the last action of the 90 mins, sending the game into extra time.
Mphela scored Bafana Bafana’s 2nd goal in a 2–1 win against France at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Mphela also scored the winner for South Africa against Egypt in the 93rd minute with a perfect finish that saw the North Africans beaten by South Africa for the first time in competitive football.
Mphela, a product of Jomo Cosmos, had unsuccessful spells France with RC Strasbourg and Stade Reims and returned home to play for Supersport United. He finished the 2009–10 season with as the PSL’s topscorer with 17 goals in 30 games. He won the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot and was voted PSL Players’ Player of the Season.
Mphela can form a powerful partnership with league top-scorer Bernard Parker (9 goals) as the players complement each other’s games.
Mphela hasn’t always been a favourite with Bafana fans and at various times looked destined for the exit door. A section of the fans packed into the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium booed ‘Killer’ for his less than impressive first-half performance that saw him lose the ball on several occasions in the Nelson Mandela Challenge against Ivory Coast. But he’s stuck it out and will try to give it another shot.
Written By KOFI OSEI ABIRI