Cape Town – “You couldn’t score in a brothel!!! You couldn’t score in a brothel!!!”
Thankfully this song, traditionally sung by the football hooligans on the terraces of most English football matches, has not caught on in South Africa. It’s rather surprising, though, especially at Bafana Bafana matches where a lack of scoring has been rife for many years.
However, the dreaded substitution signal is quite popular when the crowd feels a striker has wasted enough chances in front of goal. It’s not something I condone, as the people might do better to encourage strikers rather than dent their fragile egos even more.
I covered Bafana’s Nelson Mandela Challenge match against Ivory Coast two years back in Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, one of my favourite venues to watch sport.
As always, the atmosphere was electric in the Friendly City’s orange and red jewel. But it shortly turned hostile when Bafana striker Katlego Mphela missed a few good chances. And not long after that the substitute signal was seen around the stadium.
As fate would have it, though, Mphela would score a peach of a free kick, and celebrated by showing the crowd, who obviously cheered wildly for the goal, the substitute sign.
It was a bit of irony worthy of a Shakespearean play …
Yep, Bafana strikers take a lot of flak for the national team’s lack of goals.
But my question today is, why haven’t our attacking midfielders come under the same sort of scrutiny for their lack of goals?
Bafana’s midfielders just don’t seem to get into great scoring positions, and on the odd occasion when they do, they lack the composure and technique in front of goal to get the job done.
Over the last few months we have watched Orlando Pirates do incredibly well in the Caf Champions League. And one of the reasons for their top performances have been the contributions of their midfielders inside the 18-yard area.
Their movement has been fantastic, with one player drawing out a defender and another one getting himself to the penalty spot, giving him a chance to get the ball in a dangerous position.
Daine Klate, in particular, is a master at getting into positions where he can cause havoc. But yet, how many games has he featured in for the national team over the last five years?
Too many times we see the Bafana wingers or fullbacks crossing the ball from the flanks with only a sole striker to aim at. We don’t see any late arrivals in the box, which is a speciality of the likes of Andres Iniesta, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who have scored plenty of goals between them.
Bafana need such a player who can be that “extra man” in the penalty area, somebody with a football brain who can read the play, somebody with the skill and the composure to finish, someone like a Klate or a Thulani Serero.
The goals aren’t always going to come from the strikers, and Bafana need to realise that. And that’s why they must be brave and get the midfielders into more advanced positions.
If Bafana can’t score goals, the national team won’t only fail to qualify for the big tournaments, but that horrible English terrace song might make an appearance sooner rather than later.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
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