AFCON 2015 Match Preview: South Africa vs. Senegal
By Abdul Musa
After managing to snatch a late winner vs Ghana in the group C opener, the Teranga Lions confirm they mean business in Equatorial Guinea. A late Moussa Sow winner in the dying seconds of the game confirmed three points for Giresse’s men.
Andre Ayew had, of course, put Ghana infront from the penalty spot and Senegal were struggling defensively deploying a back three system. Giresse reversed to a back four at the start of the second half taking off Papy Djilobodji for Lamine Gassama and Senegal started to dominate. Two moments of magic from Mame Biram Diouf and substitute Moussa Sow rocked the Ghanaians. Welcome to Africa, Avram Grant.
South Africa, on the other hand, crashed to a 3-1 defeat against tournament favourites Algeria. Despite creating the better chances and dominating large periods of the game, Bafana Bafana simply couldn’t handle the ruthlessness of the Desert Foxes. Thuso Phala put South Africa in front after some lovely intricate passing slicing through the Algerian defence and leaving Rais M’Bolhi with no chance whatsoever, but clinical finishing from Gourcuff’s men decided the match in the end in what could be described as one of Algeria’s poorest performances in recent times.
Must win for Bafana Bafana
Mashaba’s men enter this one knowing they have to win to stand a good chance of progressing. For me, there is no doubt South Africa have a talented squad and they showed glimpses of how good they can be versus Algeria, but they need to learn to be clinical.
This squad could be considered somewhat inexperienced; squandering clear cut opportunities will affect the team mentally as well as on the score board. This game will be tough. Senegal will be looking for an early goal to destroy South Africa mentally but heads must not go down. Bafana Bafana must compete mentally as well as physically.
Dipping into their mental reservoirs as well as showing good composure in front of goal will be crucial if South Africa are too come out with anything in this Mongomo showdown.
Senegal slight favourites
Many feared for their creativity and inability to create chances or break down well-disciplined defences, but Senegal’s natural physicality and strength in depth, especially in the final third, could be enough to see them decide games in this group. Giresse’s plethora of dangerous attacking options will again give Senegal the edge in this game.
South Africa are not the type to sit back anyway so there will be space for the likes of Diouf and N’Doye to exploit, and I’m predicting Giresse will opt to start with a back four this time, adding stability and balance to his defence.
Senegal will have to be wary, although they are superior in size and strength, the South Africans are quicker and more agile, especially with the likes of Vilakazi, Phala and Tokelo Rantie in attack. South Africa have the ability to play in small spaces and exploit defences with quick intricate passing, movement that the likes of Lamine Sane and Kara Mbodji will have to be aware of.
Context and Statistics
-The Teranga Lions are unbeaten in their last 5 international fixtures and are yet to lose to South Africa in an international fixture
-The last meeting between the two sides was an international friendly in Durban that ended goalless.
-Victory would guarantee Senegal a place in the quarter finals providing Algeria avoid defeat against Ghana in the other game.
-South Africa have to at least take a point to stand any chance in qualifying but realistically a win would be ideal to liven up Bafana Bafana’s chances of proceeding to the next round.
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