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Africa Cup of Nations

COMMENT: Morocco remain Bafana Bafana's biggest threat at Afcon 2019

8:49 PM GMT+8 29/06/2019
South Africa v Namibia - Stuart Baxter and Ricardo Mannetti - June 2019
There is a new sense of belief in the Bafana camp after their win over Namibia, but their final group game will be a real test for Baxter and his team

South Africa moved up to third in Group D after collecting their first points of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament at the expense of neighbours Namibia on Friday night.

However, they still showed signs of a team that are still trying to figure out how they want to want to play under Stuart Baxter. 

The coach again relied heavily on crosses despite having too many ball-players in his starting line-up. Percy Tau, Themba Zwane, and Sibusiso Vilakazi among others are all capable of unlocking any opposition defence, but they looked lost at times, finding it difficult to play their normal game. 

The Namibian match was supposed to give the country glimpses of how best Bafana can utilise their players, especially after that dismal performance against Cote d'Ivoire in their opening match. 

However, up until the 68th minute when Bongani Zungu scored, Bafana appeared to be struggling, and the frustration was beginning to build up as the players opted for long balls forward instead of their usual combination play. 

Bafana have been completely unconvincing in the final third, and none of the strikers have been able to deliver thus far. Failure to score enough goals means that Baxter's team aren't good enough just yet.  

South Africa's strengths are speed and skill, but the nation hasn't seen any of that in the opening two matches, and while the team should be proud of beating the Brave Warriors, they must not get carried away going forward. 

The three points collected against Namibia should be nothing but the foundation Bafana should use to see how best they can prepare for Morocco in their final group match on Monday. 

Had Bafana been clinical against Namibia, then the country would be talking a different language, and perhaps everyone would be clear as to what Baxter is aiming to achieve. Morocco have already qualified for the knockout stages, but they are certainly not going to lie down and allow SA to do as they please.

Baxter ought to be concerned.

Baxter knows how to plan tactically for his opponents, but for those who have been following the national side for the longest time, especially during their glory days, one can tell there's still a long way to go before they can call themselves the powerhouses of African football again.

The win against Namibia was important in keeping Bafana in the tournament, but the sad truth is that it may not be enough for them to qualify if they fail to beat Morocco. 

Bafana's defence is still a suspect despite barely being tested against Namibia, and it remains to be seen whether they can handle the Atlas Lions' fine forwards.

Take nothing away from any of the players Baxter selected to marshal the defence, but Bafana looked disorganized and shaky every time Namibia threatened to score. 

They may crack against the likes of Younes Belhanda, Youssef En-Nesyri and Hakim Ziyech, who are beginning to hit their top form in the tournament so far.

Bafana have been in the process of building and planning for the future for several years, but if Baxter wants to build a team that will compete at major tournaments in years to come, he needs to come up with a clear strategy of how his team play...regardless of their opponents.

There are positives South Africa can draw from Friday's win over Namibia, and everyone needs to rally behind the team until the end, but Morocco have the quality to expose this 'work in progress'.