South Africa World Cup PreviewPosted: Monday May 27, 2002 9:19 PM
How they line up
Coach Jomo Sono says South Africa will use quick breaks as the basis of their tactics for the World Cup. For several years now, Bafana Bafana have been able to more than hold their own in African competition with a never-ending set of fast wingers, particularly on the left-hand side. Nowadays, the bigger threat comes from the right in the form of the classy Sibusiso Zuma, who never tires of running at defenders.
Zuma was supposed to be the launchpad for all the attacks at the Mali Nations Cup, but had to spend a considerable amount of time covering the inexperienced right-back Mbulelo Mabizela.
Sono admits he is not a tactical genius and says he is, rather, a great believer in allowing players to "go out and express themselves." This is fine if you are playing in the mediocrity of the South African Premier League, but not good enough for the World Cup finals.
Previous coach Carlos Queiroz's cautious approach took much of the fizz out of the side, but they held their shape better than ever before.
In goal, South Africa have a colossus in Hans Vonk, the Dutch goalkeeper from Heerenveen who had the good fortune to be born in South Africa. Sono might also make him captain. Vonk has a more than able deputy in Andre Arendse, who has almost 50 caps.
The flat back four has been a touch wayward and made for many potential heart attacks among the Bafana Bafana supporters. Cyril Nzama or the newcomer Thabang Molefe are likely to come in on the right-hand side; Germany-based Bradley Carnell is the strongest player on the left and is also an asset going forward.
The two center-back roles remain a toss-up. First choices would be a fit Lucas Radebe and Mark Fish, but it is likely, rather, to be Pierre Issa and Aaron Mokoena. Jacob Lekgetho is a defensive option, having shown his quality in this season's UEFA Champions League with Lokomotiv Moscow.
The departure from the international arena of the aging John Moshoeu and Doctor Khumalo means there has been a problem finding some playmaking flair in the middle. Thabo Mngomeni has not proven to be the answer, and while Sono's favorite, MacBeth Sibaya, works hard and is a potential starter, his passing ability is far from great. Quinton Fortune is more certain to take the other central midfield role, with mercurial winger Delron Buckley on the left.
Zuma is a dead cert for the right-hand side. Indeed, he is the only player besides Vonk who can be sure, barring injury, of a place in the starting lineup against Paraguay on June 2.
Midfield backup is provided by speedy winger Helman Mkhalele and ball-winners Bennett Mnguni and Eric Tinkler.
Up front, Siyabonga Nomvete is likely to be partnered by Benni McCarthy, with current captain Shaun Bartlett losing his roster spot because of injury and a lack of match practice at Charlton. The strong Bradley August provides forward cover, but he lacks pace.
From World Soccer magazine.