Algeria 4-4 Bafana Bafana: 4 things we learned

Algeria 4-4 Bafana Bafana: 4 things we learned
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Bafana Bafana took on the Desert Foxes of Algeria in Algiers and served a game for the ages. It could be dubbed ‘Thriller in Algiers.’ Both teams left everything on the pitch.

Perhaps the spirit of Madiba was hovering over the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Baraki, Algiers, as the game produced goals and excitement to keep their fans giggling for days.

The exciting game ended 3-3. No victor, no vanquished, but the game was high on entertainment.

It was a high-octane affair, with both sides playing like lightweight boxers – sprite on their feet.

It was a feast, but it left one asking for more as Themba Zwane scored a brace (including a marvellous solo goal, while Yassine Benzia scored an early contender for the 2024 Puskas Award.

With Bafana Bafana making ten changes compared to the starting XI, which faced Andorra last Thursday, no one could predict the outcome of this fiesta.

Bafana Bafana's defence was lax and naive

Bafana Bafana with lax defence
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Bafana Bafana was anything but the side that conceded the least goals at AFCON 2023. The defence in Ivory Coast was compact and gave away few chances, but in Algiers, they were all over the place.

The defending featured recklessness, nervousness and poor decision-making. The traits that dogged Bafana Bafana defenders were epitomized in the first goal when, amid four defenders, Yassine Benzia could still find space to shoot past them for the first goal.

The third goal was one the South African side should receive several knocks for, as Benzia hit a bicycle kick inside the box with several yellow shirts around him.

On top of defensive naivety is the carelessness of Ronwen Williams to give away the second goal.

Bafana Bafana was not afraid to play an adventurous attacking football

Bafana Bafana in attacking football
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The defence might have been their undoing, but the attack was the cynosure of all eyes. Once again, Bafana Bafana proved that they were not afraid to attack.

They took risks in taking the game to their opponents in their backyard. It was wave after wave of yellow shirts bounding on the defence of the Desert Foxes.

With this kind of attacking form, the Super Eagles should be worried when both sides lock horns in a FIFA World Cup qualifying game in June.

Bafana Bafana showed that it would be nothing like what they served in Ivory Coast in their Semi-Final clash.

The shooting prowess of Bafana Bafana is questionable

Bafana Bafana with poor shooting stats
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South Africa had trouble breaking down the Algerian defence. They resorted to pounding them with shots from almost everywhere on the pitch, but it yielded little results.

The poor shots and crosses by Bafana Bafana were alarming. It was either the shots were easy to catch or profligate.

It took a while for the South African players to realize they could not bulldoze the Algerian defence with these shots.

Appolis crashed one off the crossbar in the third minute of play when it was easier to score. Themba Zwane also had a go that was way off target. Teboho Mokoena was also part of the shooting frenzy.

One thing was obvious – the South African players love to hit the ball with venom, but their shooting is poor.

South Africa has beautiful build-up play

Bafana Bafana Themba Zwane
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When Bafana Bafana settled into their groove, they played intricate and beautiful football. They had even the home fans mesmerized with how they carved them open several times.

The three goals came off beautiful movement, passing and dribbling. The build-up play was a delight to watch.

In this form, South Africa can match any team in the world. One wonders why they opted for the ultra dull and over-tactical displays during the AFCON in Ivory Coast.

Bafana Bafana’s next game

South Africa will be back in action in three months as they take on South Africa in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on 3 June.

This clash against the Super Eagles will take place in Nigeria. The NFF is yet to confirm the venue of the game.

They will host Zimbabwe a few days after the game in Nigeria.

Bafana Bafana has only won one World Cup qualifier – a 2-1 win over Benin. They followed the victory with a 2-0 loss to Rwanda.

This article was most recently revised and updated 4 months ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter. Chooka has a passion for football and has been a fan of Enugu Rangers (over 30 years) and Real Madrid (Since 1996).