Give Shabba a break - Tovey
Bafana Bafana go into their second match of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations against Angola on Wednesday under pressure to deliver and former skipper Neil Tovey believes some changes are needed to get the team back on track.
Bafana started with a meek performance against Cape Verde (0-0 draw) on Saturday, a display which left many wondering if Gordon Igesund’s team would ever rise to the occasion. In the post-match analysis, a number of factors, ranging from stage fright to lack of match fitness, were highlighted as the reason for such a show.
However, former Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs captain Neil Tovey put it down to selection and urged coach Igesund to effect some changes to get the team going against the Palancas Negras of Angola. The match takes place at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, kick-off at 5pm (CAT, GMT +2) live on SS HD2, SS4 and live streaming on supersport.com.
One change in particular, Tovey said, was the resting of midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala, who has drawn a lot of criticism for his lethargic performance. To his credit, Shabba has played almost every game since the 2010 World Cup and has had little rest.
“Some decision has to be made about Shabba. I think he’s let us down quite often, not because he is not a good player. I just think he is having a real tough time and in my own opinion we need to say ‘Shabba come sit on the bench, look from outside and you can still come and make an impact’. Not just to throw him to the wolves but sit him down and say ‘Shabba, you don’t just become a bad player overnight’. The coach can word it nicely and correctly as he explains to the player what he wants to achieve,” Tovey said.
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Tovey said he would also make some changes to the left side of the field. “I feel if you have a winger on the right side always going past players and there’s no one on the left, then there’s no real balance from both flanks.
“Dean Furman also needs an opportunity to play, then there’s Mphela, who is a proven goal scorer. If we do get our game going I think he will be in correct places to score,” said Tovey.
Igesund is expected to make some changes to his line-up as he goes in search of his first-ever Afcon victory as a coach.
“Clive (Barker) as a coach will tell you that on a day like that (opening match) if you have three or four players not on song, then you are in trouble but if it’s eight or nine players then you are in big trouble. I think that’s what we had on Saturday,” said Tovey.
On the performance against Cape Verde: “We are not happy, I don’t think Gordon was happy either. It looked like they had stage fright but that’s a debate for another day. The beauty about it is that everybody is level in the group. We just need to put up a good performance then we can top our group.
“We have to start playing the game. Of all the teams in all the groups, I think Bafana Bafana came close to performing the worst in the first match. It’s disturbing but I know their capabilities, they just need to relax and enjoy the game,” he said.
His message to Bafana against Angola: “Just go out there and do what you have been chosen for. You have been selected for that position only because of your strength and if every player can play to their strengths, then we can be competitive. It’s all we want – for a team to be competitive. Win, lose or draw doesn’t matter, it’s football. But we all want to see a performance and if it’s a good performance everybody can accept that,” he said.
"Angola is not going to be easy," Tovey said. “We know they’ve got some real good talent. They have good players up front who can score goals and they have some robust defenders but they also have their weaknesses. We just need to exploit their weaknesses. I think Morocco got behind their full-backs, especially their left full-back, a number of times so we have that opportunity. We have Phala and if he can get to his game, then we are fine.”
The pressure will especially be intensified as the local fans want to see the current squad emulate the class of 1996 by winning the Afcon on home soil.
“Everybody talks about the 1996 squad now especially as it is on home soil. We, especially the 1996 team, want them to perform but we also realise how talented a team and strong we were in ’96. We want some success for Bafana Bafana,” said Tovey.
DIKGACOI, CHABANGU BLOW
Meanwhile, midfielders Kagisho Dikgacoi and Lerato Chabangu have both been ruled out of the crucial match against Angola due to injuries.
Dikgacoi is suffering from a recurring knee injury he sustained during the international friendly match against Algeria at Orlando Stadium on 12 January 2013.
Chabangu has been complaining about a painful groin, which has now forced him to miss tomorrow’s clash.
Dikgacoi started the match against Cape Verde in the opening clash of Afcon 2013, while Chabangu came on as a second-half substitute.
It is still not clear whether the duo will be available for the final group stages match against Morocco in Durban on Sunday.