WHILE most think it is all doom and gloom, former Bafana Bafana midfielder Bennett Mnguni, one of the players to last earn Bafana Bafana a place at the Fifa World Cup through the qualifying stages, does not see the replay against Senegal as the end of the road.
The country’s despair came yesterday when Safa president Danny Jordaan and NEC member advocate Normal Arendse announced that Safa “will not” appeal against Fifa’s decision to have the match replayed. This means Bafana are back at the bottom of Group D with a single point, with three matches to play. With most South Africans viewing this as Fifa giving Senegal a second bite of the cherry, Mnguni, who was part of the squad that featured at the 2002 World Cup in Korea-Japan – alongside big names such as Lucas Radebe, Benni McCarthy, Thabo Mngomeni and Sibusiso Zuma, refused to agree that all is lost, saying Bafana can defeat Senegal.
“I have watched Senegal. People talk about Sadio Mane and Keita Balde, but we have very talented players like Percy Tau that we should trust,” Mnguni said. “We have guys such as Bongani Zungu, Luther Singh, Keagan Dolly and Andile Jali. If those players can stand up and know the meaning of a national cap, they will take us to the World Cup. I do not doubt their talent. “I also don’t think that Fifa’s decision was done to help Senegal, we would have been happy with the decision if the referee had favoured Senegal instead.
“I believe we can win those matches and go to the World Cup,” Mnguni said. It all looks still possible, but for Stuart Baxter and his men, the mountain now looks that much higher to climb than was the case a few weeks ago. As things stand, Burkina Faso top the group with six points, followed by Cape Verde, also on six points thanks to their two victories against South Africa.
While Safa has accepted Fifa’s decision to have the match replayed, they also announced that they will pay special attention to Joseph Lamptey’s appeal in Swizerland to have his lifetime ban overturned. Should that end in Lamptey’s favour, Safa said they would take further steps. In replaying the match, Safa also announced that Fifa will foot the bill for the match, estimated to be around R5m. “That is another thing we spoke to Fifa about and they said they will handle it,” Jordaan said.
“But for us, we will not accept dirty points. We strongly support Fifa’s fight against corruption and to make sure that there is no manipulation of any sort in our matches,” the Safa president said. With Safa having agreed, the match will be played during Fifa’s international break in November at a venue still to be announced.
-MMASEKEPE MATSEBANE|mmasekepem@ thenewage.co.za