By Antoinette Muller and Leonard Solms
South Africa’s defence was rock solid at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, but the team was let down by lack of attacking flair. How big is the problem and how can it possibly be solved?
“How many times do you have a specific striker who you can tell: ‘Today is Tuesday, it’s the morning, we’re going to take one hour specifically to focus on scoring’?”
Forget cold Tuesday nights in Stoke, Augusto Palacios wants to know about balmy Tuesday mornings in Johannesburg. And he has good reason to.
When he replaced Julio Leal as Orlando Pirates coach in March 2012, the Peruvian inherited a misfiring team. Ezikamagebhula lost their first game under Palacios 3-0, leaving Mamelodi Sundowns as South African premier division favourites. However, the Buccaneers sprang to life at this point, picking up 25 points and scoring 18 goals in their last 11 fixtures en route to the title.
It wouldn’t be remiss to ask the same question about Monday nights at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo. Facetious it might be, but that was the anomaly during South Africa’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign in Egypt.
The post mortems have been surprisingly few. Perhaps the euphoria…