Five key battles to decide crucial Bafana, Namibia Afcon clash

Namibia will be banking on Peter Shalulile to bang in the goals against Bafana Bafana. Picture: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix

Namibia will be banking on Peter Shalulile to bang in the goals against Bafana Bafana. Picture: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix

Published Jan 20, 2024


Bafana Bafana face an uphill battle to overcome neighbours Namibia and put their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) campaign back on track.

Bafana will compete against a Brave Warriors outfit that blew Group E wide open by defeating the favourites to qualify for the knock-out stage, Tunisia, in their first match.

The clashes in tomorrow’s match between the many Dstv premiership players on the the pitch will prove decisive.

Football writer Smiso Msomi takes a look at five key battles.

Mothobi Mvala vs Peter Shalulile

It comes as no surprise that Namibia’s most lethal weapon is Mamelodi Sundowns sharpshooter Shalulile, a teammate of Bafana stalwart Mvala.

The duo find themselves in unfamiliar circumstances this time around as they collide for the pride of their respective nations.

The uncertainty of who will partner Mvala, given Siyanda Xulu’s poor run in two recent Bafana matches, places greater emphasis on the big centre-back to shoulder the responsibility of keeping Shalulile quiet.

Tebogo Mokoena vs Prins Tjiueza

The robust figure of Mokoena was undoubtedly one of Bafana’s best players, despite their loss in the last match, and is expected to keep his place in central defensive midfield.

His positioning places him in confrontation with Namibia’s number 10, Tjiueza, who took Tunisia by surprise in the last match with his silky touch and diminutive stature.

The 21-year-old also displayed his connection with leading man Shalulile in the final third and will be a constant menace for Mokoena as well as Sphephelo Sithole.

Riaan Hanamub vs Percy Tau

The squabble between Al Ahly man Tau and Amazulu’s Hanamub is expected to be a feisty one as the pair possess strength, pace and technical ability.

Tau will approach this encounter looking to make up for his penalty miss in the opening match, while Hanamub will be entrusted with pouring cold water over all of those plans.

If Tau is to have a crack at goal, he must make a great effort to evade the advances of Hanamub, who is always up for a scrap.

Khuliso Mudau vs Deon Hotto

The Orlando Pirates winger kicked off his Afcon campaign in fine style as he scored the winner for Namibia against Tunisia.

The speedy winger also notched up a Player of the Match accolade, which will make Bafana right-back Mudau sit up and take notice when the two meet.

Mudau is arguably the best right back on the continent at the moment, and his expertise will be put to the test against one of the trickiest attackers.

Lloyd Kazapua vs Evidence Makgopa

Without Kazapua, Namibia’s chances of a late winner against Tunisia would not have been possible as he made four point-blank saves to keep his side in the match before Hotto’s winner.

A similar performance will be expected from him when he faces a Bafana attack, looking to score their first goal of the competition, led by striker Makgopa.