This Sunday Bafana Bafana will face Ethiopia in Addis Ababa in a very crucial World Cup qualifier. It is a must-win match for Bafana. Ethiopia is currently sitting at the top of the Group A table, with 10 points. South Africa is at position 2, with 8 points.
Bafana and Ethiopia will play their 6th and last matches in the 2nd round of the World Cup qualifiers on the 6th of September, where they will be facing Botswana and Central African Republic respectively. Only group winners will progress to the third round. If Ethiopia win on Sunday, they will automatically qualify to go through to the 3rd round with 13 points. Even if Bafana Bafana beat Botswana in Septemper, they will finish the 2nd round with only 11 points if they lose tomorrow, and they will be out of the competition.
However, if Bafana and Ethiopia play to a draw tomorrow, it will still be possible for Bafana to go through to the 3rd round if in September they beat Botswana while CAR beats Ethiopia, a result that is highly unlikely. Ethiopia beat CAR 2 – 0 in June last year at Addis Ababa Stadium. Bafana also beat CAR 2 – 0 in March this year at Cape Town Stadium and last week they beat them 3 – 0 at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Cameroon. Therefore, it is unlikely for CAR to beat Ethiopia in September.
When Gordon Igesund was hired last year, the South African Football Association (SAFA) gave him a mandate to get Bafana Bafana to reach the 2012 Afcon semi-finals and qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals. He was unable to reach the Afcon semi-finals. If Bafana lose on Sunday, it is unknown if he will be kept as coach for the national team as he will have failed to fulfil his mandate.
Although Bafana just beat CAR 3 – 0, tomorrow’s match is not going to be an easy one. Ethiopia is the toughest team in Group A. In June last year, Bafana Bafana failed to beat Ethiopia at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium. The match ended in a 1 – 1 draw. Ethiopian striker Fikru Tefera said to Kickoff: “South Africa is not going anywhere. Actually they must just forget about the World Cup because there is absolutely no way that they will win against us at home.”
Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune said: “Ethiopia are a very strong side, very organised and they like to play carpet football but I think we have equally good players that can deal with that threat. We have shown great discipline and good attitude in our matches and that can go a long way in giving us results we need.”