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‘Bafana Must Be Careful Against Cape Verde’

Ramahlwe Mphahlele, who was part of the Bafana Bafana team that lost to Cape Verde in World Cup qualifiers six years ago, has warned that the South African team must not take their opponents lightly.

The 5 September 2017 will go down as one of the most painful days in Bafana history as they were beaten at home by Cape Verde.  

It was a 2018 World Cup qualifying match in the CAF zone at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, with Bafana losing 2-1 and finishing at the bottom of Group D.  

Themba Zwane, Percy Tau, and Ronwen Williams, who are all in Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations squad, were on the bench.  

Zwane came on for Lebohang Manyama in the 57th minute and Tau replaced Bradley Grobler 10 minutes later. Captain Williams could not get a run, as Wayne Sandilands was in goals.  

Bafana, having lost 2-1 to Blue Sharks in an away leg through Nuno Rocha’s brace, needed to ensure that they didn’t bow out on a whimper as Senegal had sealed the top spot for the playoffs.   

As Rocha scored twice in the away round, it was the turn of Gary Rodriguez, who was playing for Galatasaray at that time, to be the hero, thumping two goals past Sandilands.  

The second was a thumping free-kick that was hit with some power, with the ball flying in the air and wrong-footing the former Mamelodi Sundowns goalie.   

“I played against Cape Verde, and it was a very difficult game,” recalled Mphahlele to iDiski Times, as he played at right-back in that game in Durban.  

“We didn’t expect them to play like that, but we got caught because they were on another level.”    

Bafana will face the Blue Sharks in the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final at Charles Konan Banny de Stadium in Yamoussoukro on Saturday (22:00).  

Cape Verde, the smallest nation in these AFCON finals, has also depicted a huge antidote in this tournament, topping Group B with seven points – beating Mozambique and Ghana, respectively, while drawing with Egypt.  

In the Round of 16, they beat Mauritania through a late penalty by captain Ryan Mendes. On the other hand, Bafana finished second in Group E – having lost to Mali, and thumped Namibia before drawing against 2004 champions Tunisia.  

Bafana beat 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco on Tuesday to reach the quarter-finals, but Mphahlele has warned against complacency. 

“Bafana should treat this game like how they treated Morocco, how they treated Tunisia,” said Mphahlele, who was also part of the Bafana team that lost to Nigeria in the quarter-finals in the 2019 edition. 

“I mean, they are in the last eight, they didn’t get there by default, they worked hard to get there. The only mistake we can make is to think we are playing Cape Verde and who is Cape Verde – believe me, they are a very strong side, speed wingers, very good on transition,” he added. 

“So, we must be very careful when we take on that team. For me, it is one of the most important games that we are going to have to play, and we need to be at our best to beat them.” 

The winner of this tie will face Nigeria after they eliminated Angola in the semi-final on Wednesday.

Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala is iDiski Times' former KwaZulu-Natal-based web journalist. Boasting extensive experience in the South African football landscape, Robin-Duke has previously worked for Kick-Off Magazine, Soccer Laduma, and Daily Sun and Sunday Sun. He specialises in breaking news and transfers around South Africa’s big clubs in KZN. Robin-Duke has left iDiski Times.