Our soccer analyst previews the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier between Cape Verde and South Africa which takes place on Friday 1 September 2017.
Both South Africa and Cape Verde still have a chance of booking themselves a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup as they go head-to-head this Friday. After one victory and a draw, South Africa lie second in Group D with the same amount of points as table-topping Burkina Faso.
Cape Verde anchor the table as they’ve lost both their matches so far. Can they turn the tables in the remaining four fixtures, starting with the upcoming match against Bafana Bafana? Let’s paint a picture.
Cape Verde v South Africa | Friday 1 September | Estadio Nacional de Cabo Verde | 20:30
Cape Verde have had a shambolic start to their World Cup qualification quest, losing both their opening two matches. They have conceded four goals without finding the back of the net. If they’re to top the standings come the end of the qualifiers, the Blue Sharks need nothing less than a victory at home against one of the qualification favourites.
The downward spiraling has seen the country’s football federation sack its president, Victor Osorio. Lucio Antunes, who was reappointed last year as the team’s head coach is hoping to spark new life into the team by calling up French-based experienced defender – who can also operate in midfield – Danilson da Cruz. The highly-rated 31-year old plies his trade in Ligue 2 for Stade Reims.
Antunes has also called up uncapped goalkeeper, Marcio Rosa, who’s only 20 years old. Midfielder Platini is making a return to the side after two years of absence. The rapidly tweaked side will be hoping to make home ground advantage count as the match takes place in their own backyard, with the return leg taking place in Durban four days later.
Coach Antunes, who led Cape Verde to their very first AFCON in 2013, is also known for being mentored by Jose Mourinho. The confidence he gives his players can make his team unplayable at times and he will be looking to stamp his authority since things haven’t been rosy ever since he was called upon to rescue the situation.
Bafana Bafana are a side plagued by injuries, resulting in players pulling out of the side for various reasons. Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has suffered a chest infection, while the other shot-stopper who was called up, Darren Keet, also sustained an injury. They have been replaced by Wayne Sandilands and Reyaad Pieterse.
Clayton Daniels will replace the injured Rivaldo Coetzee at centre back, however, that should not be too much of a setback since Stuart Baxter seems to prefer the centre-back pairing of Eric Mathoho and Thulani Hlatshwayo. Playmaker, Thulani Serero, might sit out of the match due to a hamstring injury but the likes of Themba Zwane, Percy Tau and Lebogang Manyama are more than ready to step up to the plate.
I was delighted to see Baxter finally calling up Bradley Grobler ahead of Thamsanqa Gabuza. Grobler is a very smart striker who has all the physical attributes to give any defence a hard time. He has been scoring very important goals for SuperSport United and can play as a lone striker. The midfield and the strike force look dangerous and there’s been no other major setbacks.
The team last qualified for the Word Cup in 2002 and this is their best chance as they’re tied on four points with the table toppers, Burkina Faso. Bafana beat Senegal 2-1 at FNB Stadium and drew 1-1 at Burkina Faso. Playing back-to-back matches against this opposition presents a golden opportunity for them to collect easier six points and probably top the group towards the business end of the qualifiers.
Verdict: South Africa Win 18/10
Cape Verde have been everyone’s punching bag lately and I’m expecting South Africa to win this one. With the likes of Manyama, Grobler and Tau, Bafana should be too good for them.