Bafana Bafana coach Ntseki eyes World Cup-Afcon double
minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;
mso-no-proof:yes">– Bafana Bafana haven’t qualified for the World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations in the same year for almost two decades, but coach Molefi Ntseki is confident they can break that barren streak next year.
The Afcon that was scheduled to take place next year in Cameroon has been moved to 2022, the same year that the global showpiece will be held in Qatar.
The last time Bafana contested two major tournaments in the same year was back in 2002 when they booked tickets to the World Cup in Japan/Korea and Afcon in Mali.
They achieved the same feat in 1998 when they qualified for their maiden World Cup in France and reached the Afcon in Burkina Faso.
Bafana will be under immense pressure next year when international football does resume as they have to juggle their schedule in their bid to qualify for both tournaments.
Ntseki admits that it is time for Bafana to end their barren run.
“In the past six years or so, our national teams have been doing very well,” Ntseki articulated in an exclusive interview with Independent Media.
“Be it men’s national teams or women’s national teams, there’s been notable progress. Everybody will always look at Bafana Bafana. Bafana is the face of South African football in the eyes of the world.
“It is important for us to follow on the success of our junior national teams because they have done well."
South Africa hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 2002. They hosted the 2010 edition when they became the first host nation to be bundled out of the group stage.
“It is about us now doing well in the Afcon and qualifying for the 2022 edition in Cameroon and not just qualifying but doing well,” said Ntseki.
“We’ve seen the Under-23s qualifying for the Under-23 World Cup (which is the Olympic Games), the Under-20s qualifying for the World Cup, and the Under-17s doing the same. It is only Bafana Bafana that still has to qualify for the senior World Cup and that puts a lot of pressure on us to deliver and qualify for the tournament in Qatar.
“We have to go there and represent our country very well,” he added.
Recently, Bafana Bafana did the country proud by reaching the quarter-finals of Afcon in Egypt.
Bafana are in the same qualifying group as Ghana, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Only one nation will advance to the next round for the World Cup qualifying campaign.
“With the coronavirus having stopped all the football activities, it is a very big setback, but we can’t complain every day about what coronavirus has brought to sports in general.
"We are positive and hopeful that we will see our domestic league restarting and finishing off, and players getting minutes so that we can do a proper profile,” Ntseki said.