Our soccer pundit previews the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Cape Verde which takes place on Tuesday 5 September 2017.
After dropping points in the first leg, South Africa are under immense pressure to win the return leg at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday. Bafana Bafana now have three matches remaining and that’s a game against each of the three teams in Group D.
In order for Stuart Baxter’s troops to qualify for the world’s greatest football spectacle without needing any favours from other teams in the group they must win all those matches. It’s a tough task but is it insurmountable? Let’s take a look at how they will fare on Tuesday evening.
South Africa vs Cape Verde | Tuesday 5 September 2017 | Moses Mabhida Stadium | 19:00
To Win Match
South Africa 5/10 | Draw 11/4 | Cape Verde 6/1
Bafana Bafana got their campaign off to a promising start with a controversial but credible 2-1 win over Senegal after which they secured a 1-1 draw away at Burkina Faso. The 2-1 defeat at the hands of Cape Verde who had lost their opening two fixtures sent shock waves across the whole nation, considering the fact that South Africa had also won their first match under Stuart Baxter’s second tenure, a 2-0 convincing victory at Nigeria in a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Baxter is expected to ring major changes to the side that lost the first leg as Eric Mathoho is suspended for the match and players like Dean Furman and Lebogang Manyama produced below par performances. We might see the likes of Kamohelo Mokotjo, Bradley Grobler, Thulani Serero and Clayton Daniels getting the nod. The hosts are now second on the standings, tied on four points with Senegal and both teams are just one point below top-placed Burkina Faso which makes this match a must-win.
Having lost their opening two qualifiers, the Blue Sharks returned to winning was by downing 10-men South Africa 2-1 at home in a highly emotive encounter. This gives them a mathematical chance of qualifying for the World Cup as they are now on three points. That’s only two points below Burkina Faso who are riding the crest of the Group D wave.
Cape Verde, under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho’s protégé Lucio Antunes didn’t play particularly well against Bafana last week but they were well organised and content with grinding out a result. I’m expecting Antunes to employ a defensive approach to the game against a team that plays in the stadium that they have made their fortress in recent years.
Verdict: South Africa Win 5/10
South Africa are priced as favorites and I’m really expecting them to win comfortably at home. Last week’s defeat was a wake-up call for them and now there’s no margin for error. Bafana Bafana also don’t normally lose at Moses Mabhida Stadium which can be put down to electrifying ambiance provided by their fans.