Molefi Ntseki has come out to blame himself for Bafana Bafana’s failure of qualifying for the continental showpiece in Cameroon next year.
“The disappointment is not only for us, but the big disappointment is for SAFA because the objective was very clear, the mandate is very clear – to see the team qualifying for every continental and world tournament so that we can put Bafana on the map again with improved CAF and FIFA rankings,”
Ntseki told the media following the national team’s shock 2-0 defeat away to Sudan when a point was all they needed to secure their place in AFCON 2022.
“Not qualifying has dented our image and our possibilities of improving. As passionate South Africans, the expectation obviously was for Bafana to qualify for Afcon and maybe to do better than the last time (reaching the quarterfinals in 2019). The disappointment also goes to every South African, and I think as players and coaches we’re very much aware of the emotional pain we have caused all South Africans. The pain is more from us because we were almost there in Cameroon because of the points we accumulated along the road.”
Ntseki’s appointment as the head coach came in August 2019 shortly after Stuart Baxter, who’d roped him in as his assistant, quited despite a credible quarter final finish in the previous tournament that year in Egypt.
The mandate given to him and the objectives was made clear – take Bafana to the Afcon and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, though it’s now unlikely that he will stick around to take the team through the qualifiers for the global showpiece in the coming months.
“We need to be very honest with ourselves in terms of the challenges we came up against ahead of the Ghana/Sudan matches. We could not get our regular players because of Covid and the players we brought in who did very well against Ghana were excused because of injuries. We had to start afresh with new playing personnel. It is just unfortunate that we are talking about a team that was almost about to qualify,” Ntseki said.
“As a head coach of Bafana I came up with a turnaround strategy and everything started very well and we just needed a point to qualify. Yes, as a coach, the head of the selection committee, my disappointment is huge for my personal growth and achievements. The success of the team is my success and the failure of the team firstly starts with me to say I have failed as a coach. In football we need to own up. When there’s success you become everybody’s favourite, but when there’s failure you become an orphan and everyone is looking at you. Things like this do happen in football and we own up and we need to be very strong. I wanted the team playing in the Afcon, but it’s a big disappointment from my side.”