Four Nations Tournament: South Africa v Angola Preview

Four Nations Tournament: South Africa v Angola

The Four Nations Tournament kicks off on Thursday with Bafana Bafana opening proceedings against Angola. Find out who our football guru is backing to come good. 


African football fans will be treated to a tantalising spectacle which features four teams from the continent. The two semi-finals take place on Thursday with Zambia taking on Zimbabwe and South Africa going head to head with Angola. The final and third-place play-off take place on Sunday. The big question is, will Bafana Bafana be able to overcome the Angola hurdle and set up a final showdown with either of their neighbours at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium?

Coach Stuart Baxter has stressed the importance of mixing youth and experience to smoothen transition throughout generations in our country and either way, he will get two games to test his different combinations. Does he need to win the semi-final then? How do you ensure competitiveness while trying out new combinations? Let me take you through this potentially gripping semi-final.

South Africa v Angola | Thur. 22 March | Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Zambia | 15:00

To Win Match (90 Mins)
South Africa 11/20
Draw 5/2
Angola 5/1

South Africa
Baxter has reiterated his desire to blend youth and experience and that was clearly evident in his team selection where he gave youngsters like Innocent Maela, Brendon Peterson, Aubrey Modiba and Siphesihle Ndlovu call ups. He also has experienced campaigners like Itumeleng Khune, Thulani Hlatshwayo and Bongani Zungu. With the tournament having a third-place play-off, whether Bafana Bafana win or lose, they will play two matches which will give them a chance to rotate the squad and achieve the objective of development.

Speaking to media on Monday, Baxter said “We have one training session here at home today (Monday) in the afternoon before flying to Zambia tomorrow morning which doesn’t really give us a lot of time. We do however have the right blend of youth and experience which we believe can gel well together to form the right combination and fighting unit”.

Percy Tau has been in sizzling form for Mamelodi Sundowns this season, which makes him a serious contender for Footballer of the Season. The superstar has directly contributed to 21 goals in 28 games across all competitions for his club this season. Siphesihle Ndlovu has done superbly for Maritzburg United and he was rewarded PSL Player of the Month for January. I’m expecting the youngster to be given a run in one of the games, especially this upcoming semi-final.

Bafana Bafana will be without injured Andile Jali, however, captain Hlatshwayo who was unavailable for some FIFA World Cup qualifiers is back and he has been doing well for Bidvest Wits recently. Teammate Darren Keet also did well last week, saving two penalties even though the Students lost the shootout.



Angola
For Angola, this fixture is about redemption and rebuilding the team that has been poor over the last couple of years. The Sable Antelopes had a shambolic World Cup qualifying campaign where they were knocked out in the second round by guess who? Bafana Bafana! Under the tutelage of Shakes Mashaba then, South Africa won the tie 4-1 on aggregate to advance to the group stage. That makes this match more than just a development programme but revenge will be in their minds.

Angola also need to boost their morale for the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers as their campaign started with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Burkina Faso and they are rooted to the foot of Group I without a single point. In the FIFA rankings, released last week, Angola are ranked 141st while South Africa is 76th which highlights the difference between the two teams in the present moment.

Verdict: South Africa
Bafana Bafana might be using this tournament to rebuild a team that failed dismally to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup but they’re facing opponents that are going through an even rougher period.

Knowing that they beat Angola convincingly the last time they met will give them a psychological edge no matter who is selected to play on the day. The Bafana youngsters will also be hoping to impress so I don’t see any reason to bet against South Africa winning easily. 




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