Afcon 2019: Aaron Mokoena confident Bafana Bafana can bounce back against Namibia

The retired skipper says coach Baxter must look to introduce Serero if they are to unlock the Brave Warriors' defence and claim the three points

Former Bafana Bafana skipper Aaron Mokoena urged the current squad to continue the fight against Namibia, when the South African neighbours clash in a Africa Cup of Nations Group D clash on Friday.

Bafana will be keen to bounce back after losing 1-0 to Cote d'Ivoire in their Afcon opener on Monday.

“Pressure is always there whenever you wear the national colours, you will remember there was pressure to qualify. Yes, there are serious concerns after we lost against Cote d’Ivoire and I watched the game,” Mokoena told Goal.

“I saw what went wrong and at such a stage like Afcon, we need to know what and when to do things on the field of play. We need to have a character as well,” he said.

“However, it’s always important to know that sometimes in football it is not about how you start but how you finish. I am sure the guys are aware that the next two games are very important. I am hopeful that they will bounce back against Namibia."

Speaking about the approach to the game against the Brave Warriors, who are also licking their wounds after their 1-0 loss to Morocco, ‘Mbazo’ claims there is no need to alter tactics. 

“I think it’s all about how well you are prepared for the game or the assignment ahead. I think there is no need to change or talk about tactics or system because it doesn’t win games but players do,” continued the 38-year-old.

“For me, you can have a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 or any system you may like, but if one player doesn’t show up in the game then that system will not work."

Reflecting on the 1-0 defeat to the Elephants on Monday, the former Jomo Cosmos midfielder has called for Thulani Serero’s inclusion in the starting XI. 

“Look, I can tell you that players such as Zwane, Percy [Tau] and [Kamohelo] Mokotjo didn’t show up on that game against Cote d’Ivoire,” he reflected.

“I mean if you miss one player in the starting eleven based on your tactics or system, then the whole formation is messed up. It’s all about how you turn up for a particular game using a certain system because it cannot win you games on its own.

“I am sure coach Stuart has realised that Zwane wasn’t there and he might look at bringing Serero in for this one and we can also mention a couple of players that didn’t show up on Monday.

“However, I believe the guys have learned that sometimes you have to secure a win even if it means it’s an ugly win because this is a tournament. I also want to go back to the previous game, we didn’t ask questions against Ivory Coast.

“Look, the Ivorians didn’t give us a lot and were unstable, but when they had the ball in transition they asked the right questions and pushed our defence and Dean Furman, but we must improve now on this one.

“I think this boy, [Lebohang] Maboe tried to unlock that defence but we can’t rely on one or two players because we need to have 11 players on the field of play. [Lebo] Mothiba is our [Philemon] Masinga at this tournament and we need to have enough supply to him and he can do the job

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“It’s very important to turn up against Namibia. Everybody must be on the same page and fight for each other, defend and attack as a unit.

“I think we also need to have one holding midfielder. I played in midfield and I was just a destroyer, my point is we need someone that can go and add to our attack because the Mokotjo and Furman partnership doesn’t work for me. they just sit back in the heart of the park. We have four defenders and what are we saying when it comes to our intentions?” 

“It’s a very important game and we need to shut the back door. Put pressure on Namibia on all corners of the field and just hurt them when we get an opportunity especially when we ask the right questions in the final third."