4 Bafana players who must step up against Sao Tome and Principe
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THIS should be a guaranteed maximum points for Bafana Bafana, but they’ve been disappointing against minnows in the past and might have to dig deep for a clean sweep against islanders Sao Tome and Principe.
The South Africans play the islanders in back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at home (Moses Mabhida Stadium, tonight, 9pm kick-off) and away (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Monday, 3pm).
Here are four Bafana players who’ll need to step up for South Africa.
Tau has been Bafana’s standout performer. His two and a half stint in Belgium, where he’s been on loan from English side Brighton & Hove Albion, have groomed Tau into a mature footballer.
But for Tau to increase his chances of returning to his parent club, he’ll have to churn out a consistent outing on every Bafana call up. Around the world, too, for any player to be considered among the best it’s when they play in the major tournaments.
A week after inspiring new club Orlando Pirates to the final of the MTN8 through back-to-back victories over Kaizer Chiefs, Hlatshwayo claimed how, “I am in the right state of mind”. A feat that could come in handy for Bafana.
The captain knows the uncertainty that comes with leaving things late, after qualifying for the last Afcon following a 2-1 win over Libya in the final qualifier, having endured a disappointing outing away to the lowly-ranked Seychelles.
With Bafana having last won the continental showpiece in 1996, ‘Tyson’ and company will be eager to break that 24-year drought.
Fresh from being crowned the Goalkeeper of the Season in the premier division, for a second season in a row, Williams is coach Molefi Ntseki’s first choice between the sticks – ahead of the experienced Itumeleng Khune and overseas-based Darren Keet.
But a clean sheet in the next two matches will go beyond justifying his selection, it will be some redemption for the SuperSport United captain who’s still hoping to make amends for his previous blunders, including the one in the 2019 Afcon quarter-final against Nigeria.
For years, Erasmus has been earmarked as one of the few marksmen that would dethrone Benni McCarthy as Bafana’s all-time top goal scorer. But he has so far failed to reach his potential after being troubled by injuries.
But now injury-free and enjoying new life at champions Sundowns, Erasmus will be hoping to bring his scoring boots to Bafana. He is, after all, the experienced man in the striking department, ahead of Luther Singh, Thabiso Kutumela and Siyethemba Sithebe.