On Sunday it was confirmed that South Africa failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. Even if Bafana Bafana beat Mauritania and claim second spot in their group, there’s already other second spot teams with higher group totals.
The problem is that SA can now only gain a maximum of nine points, which won’t be enough unless another nation gets disqualified.
Despite this, Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Mashaba was thoroughly impressed by his team’s dazzling performance after they dismantled Gambia 4-0 in one of the greatest performances ever by the senior national team.
Two goals in the first half by the gangling Thamsanqa Gabuza and a stunning double by the outstanding Keagan Dolly in the second half saw Bafana Bafana record one of the biggest away victories in this AFCON 2017 qualifiers.
“That was total football from the boys and it only goes to show the amount of potential we have in the country. Winning by such a massive margin and away from home shows this team can go places,” said Mashaba.
The Bafana Bafana mentor said with the draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia around the corner, this was the confidence booster the team needed.
“Since our arrival here in Banjul, Gambia had constantly warned us that they wanted to humiliate us to finish the campaign on a high. But my boys had other ideas; their desire to win, the hunger in their eyes and will to do something special was there for all to see.
“This team has massive potential and can go places if we keep it together, have no injuries and maintain our focus. Can this be one of the best Bafana Bafana teams ever? I think the team that played Gambia on Saturday here can really go places and achieve lots of things going forward; something special is really brewing,” added Mashaba.
The national coach said while chances of qualifying for Gabon next year were slim considering results from other Groups, nothing must be taken for granted in the game of football.
“We have heard incredible stories in the past and never say never in this game. Anything is possible,” insisted Mashaba who singled out Dolly, Gabuza, workaholic Andile Jali, Hompho Kekana, Tebogo Langerman and goalkpeer and captain Itumeleng Khune for special praise.
“I have never seen Dolly in such inspired form and as for Gabuza; he never stopped running while his two goals were top notch. Jali as usual was an inspiration while the experience of captain Khune can never be discounted.
“Mandla Masango is also a Trojan Horse and no wonder he was voted the best player by his team overseas. The boy is a professional through and through.”
Meanwhile, Keagan Dolly who was mobbed by thousands of supporters at the final whistle here said while he has worked hard to be where he is today, Saturday’s five-star performance had also taken him by surprise.
“This has been some year for me. I have won lots of things, selected for major awards and now being called for the national team and do this. It gives me a wonderful feeling but I want to continue working hard so that I repay the faith my coaches have placed on me.
“I want to thank my teammates, coach Mashaba and his staff. My career is really blossoming but will continue to work hard, keep my feet grounded and put more effort in whatever I do,” said an emotional Dolly who will lead the u23 to the 2016 Rio Olympics in August.
On his incredible two second half goals which will rank as some of the best well taken goals in the Bafana Bafana colours, Dolly said the coach had told him to shoot on site.
“The coach told me to shoot when I am within range and I did exactly that in the second half and the rest as they say, is history. With the team leading 2-0 and cruising, I told myself ‘give it a go’ and boy I have never felt so good. But more is still to come, watch this space,” he said with a smile.