How we can beat Tunisia

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I don’t know when last I saw Bafana play with such fire. Yes, given the possession we had and the chances we created, we should have beaten Angola and again our finishing let us down.

But all-in-all a performance that shows lots of improvement – finally a team that can keep ball possession and ask questions of opponents. How long has it been since we saw Bafana dominate a match for such long periods?

Confident on the ball, with fullbacks operating as wingers, this team is fast showing signs of a typical Brazilian team – and I am not getting over excited here, but just stating the patterns that are emerging.

Players understand their roles in the team and there is a clear direction from management on where they want the team to go. Although there were still silly mistakes, a few wrong decisions and some nervous individual moments, generally the way Bafana played allows for the natural strengths of our players to flourish – pace and skill.

Apart from a few nervy moments, Aaron Mokoena’s solid, leadership role in deep midfield is vtal. Bryce Moon’s runs to the byline and whipping in of dangerous crosses was last seen when the late Sizwe Motaung still played. Two crosses of his should have been scored from and that is two more crosses than what we have become used to from our flanks.

I question why nobody has been able to get forward and put in a telling cross all these years? You know why, Moon has been developed properly from a young age. Simple as that. I first saw him play at Ajax Cape Town’s Under-15 side and guess what? He could cross already then.

Furthermore, how many times did young Tsepo Masilela, who had a storming match, and Moon not only win the ball in a tackle but let their man know was in for a few new bruises in the morning?

That’s the commitment we need at this level. Tournaments are not won on talent alone.

I’m starting in a positive breath because there is a lot to feel excited about. Against Tunisia goal hero Elrio van Heerden must start down the left. Siphiwe Tshabalala has not penetrated enough for Bafana in his last three outings and lacks a clinical final pass.

Any convincing Carlos Parreira needed from Elrio was done against Angola. In fact, after watching highlights of the Port Elizabeth winger’s amazing goals and tricks in Belgium, I am not surprised he pulled off this top draw strike and I was quite surprised Parreira started Tshabalala ahead of him, and even more surprised when he brought on the ineffective Lerato Chabangu before Van Heerden.

Equally impressive was Terror Fanteni’s effort. Shooting at goal hard and low is the answer. It always gives you a chance because the goalkeeper has to make a save. Terror hit the target no less than two times, one of which was parried by the goalkeeper and unfortunately Bafana were just not able to capitalise on the rebound.

Terror’s strength and confidence on the ball was the perfect foil for Sibusiso Zuma. They must play together from the start against the Carthage Eagles. Surpise Moriri has been off form.

Fanteni gives South Africa the edge in the power department. With his presence he will ask many questions of Tunisia allowing Sibusiso Zuma to move all over the pitch, use his pace and experience to carve out openings.

In the middle I would like to see an improved effort by Teko Modise. He wasn’t afraid to try things, but too many wrong options on the night and we are just fortunate that Mokoena was on hand to mop up, of which he did a sound job.

Teko had no less than four long-range attempts at goal. Only one was on target early in the match, but never troubled the keeper. At times he should have passed instead of shooting from way out, but I believe he has the match- winning ability to turn it around and I am certain he will work on his decision-making. Teko my advice is to release the ball quicker against Tunisia who are a tactically-astute team. Rather play a one-two and get the ball back than delay and be robbed of possession.

We need Steven Pienaar, Elrio and Teko to move the ball around at speed to take Tunisia by surprise. They won’t be as physical a team as Angola, but they will be cleverer, more organised in defence and very dangerous on corners and free kicks.

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