Our scribe previews the eye-catching 2018 Russia World Cup qualifier between Burkina Faso and Bafana Bafana.
Paulo Duarte’s men will be wary of the threat that Bafana pose, with South Africa undefeated in 11 games including eight wins. The two sides will be going hammer and tongs for the first points on offer in Group D, but just who will have that extra cutting edge up front to come out on top?
2018 Russia World Cup Qualifier | Saturday 8 October | Stade Du 4 Aout | 20:00
To Win (90 Mins)
Burkina Faso 33/20 | Draw 47/20 | South Africa 31/20
Burkina Faso, who are seen by many as underdogs in the group, will have their first chance to prove the world wrong when they host South Africa at the Stade Du 4 Aout on Saturday.
The Stallions are placed 68th in the FIFA rankings (third in their group), but that won’t slow them down from galloping on to their first ever FIFA World Cup. Burkina Faso will need a solid team performance, but one individual stands out from the lot.
Jonathan Pitroipa is undoubtedly the Stallions’ best player. His blistering speed on the wing, makes it frightening for any opposing defenders. Pitroipa is a player who can turn nothing into something with just one burst of pace. His link-up play with Bertrand Traore will be vital for Burkina Faso. Bertrand, younger sibling of Alain Traore, is likely to spearhead the attack alongside his brother. The trio will be looking to cause all sorts of headaches to Mashaba’s team and get their side’s first points of the qualifying stages.
Despite receiving a massive load of criticism for not qualifying for the 2017 AFCON in Gabon, Shakes Mashaba has turned South Africa’s form around, going on a run of 11 games without defeat, winning eight times.
For Bafana Bafana, the only major problem in recent times has been in the striking department. However, after Eleazar Rodgers’ performance in the MTN8 final, Shakes will be glad to see his front force going in the right direction.
Thamsanqa Gabuza may have been overshadowed by the performance of Tendai Ndoro at Orlando Pirates, but for the national team, few people have risen to the occasion like Gabuza. Personally, I would love to see Rodgers and Gabuza in a two-up-front formation.
Andile Jali is ruled out with injury, meaning Hlompo Kekana and Dean Furman could anchor the Bafana midfield, while Keagan Dolly and Mpho Makola offer an extra goal threat on either flank, with May Mahlangu, Aubrey Modiba, Thulani Serero and Ayanda Patosi all looking for a starting berth themselves.
South Africa have let us down in the past, but what better time to bounce back and take one step closer to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia with a win over the Stallions?
Verdict: South Africa (31/20)
In FIFA rankings, South Africa are better. On paper, we are also better. On the day, Bafana will prove to be the better side. Shakes Mashaba’s team are priced up at 31/20, and are well worth a punt to get all three points.
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets