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So What Exactly Is ‘At Stake’ For Bafana?

Bafana Bafana host Ghana in the penultimate round of CAF Africa Cup of Nations Group C qualifiers this evening, and iDiski Times looks at the ramifications.

‘What’s at stake’ has been the catch-phrase in the Bafana camp this week, with the players and coach re-iterating that they know ‘what’s at stake’. Well, what is?

At 6pm the battle for top spot in Group C continues as Bafana host Ghana at the FNB Stadium. Both teams are on 9 points currently, with Ghana ahead currently, because they beat South Africa 2-0 in the game in Ghana, and the head-to-head rule is in place in CAF competitions.

So should Bafana win today, and get a draw or a win in Sudan on Sunday, they will top the group and ensure qualification. This would be because of course they had more points than Ghana.

A draw today would almost ensure that Ghana top the group, as they are expected to beat Sao Tome & Principe at home in their final qualifying game. Ghana would definitely top the group if they beat Bafana.

Qualification for the Afcon finals in Cameroon will however only be decided for Bafana on Sunday, unless they beat Ghana by more than three goals today. South Africa lost 2-0 to Ghana in the first round, so the only way to have a superior head-to-head against the Black Stars would be a victory by a greater margin.

Bafana beat Sudan 1-0 in South Africa, so currently they are in command when it comes to the head-to-head rule. It is why Sudan remain third in the group, despite also having 9 points, after they beat Sao Tome yesterday, and a superior goal difference currently to Bafana. The only way for that to change is for Sudan to beat South Africa on Sunday by two goals or more.

If for any reason Ghana and Sudan finish on equal points, it is Ghana who have the superior head-to-head on goal difference, as they beat Sudan 2-0 at home, but lost 1-0 in Sudan.

So what is at stake today? The possibility of topping the group. That is what the two teams are playing for.

It is what Ronwen Williams said on Monday – “We know what’s at stake. At the beginning of this journey, the coach asked us, ‘what do you want to achieve?’ And we said, we want to be number one in the group, and that’s the challenge we’ve put in front of ourselves.”

“The players know what is at stake and what needs to be done,” Ntseki was quoted as saying by SAFA.

“We need to qualify for AFCON and that is the bottomline.”

So today they play for pride and a chance to take top position. Whether Bafana win, lose, or draw against Ghana, their qualification depends on Sunday in Sudan.

It’s simple, if they don’t lose to Sudan, Molefi Ntseki’s men are heading to Cameroon.

Rob Delport
Rob Delport
Rob Delport is a walking football encyclopedia, having been a mainstay in the Cape Town football scene for years. Rob has previously worked for SABC and various websites and publications across Africa, as well as being the South African Head Researcher for Football Manager and doing a similar role occasionally for EA Sports FIFA. Highly respected, Rob is now a senior iDiski Times website and newspaper writer, and is also responsible for the newspaper's editorial.