Bafana Bafana will roll out the excuses of missed chances and opponents who came to defend, but in the end their 4-3 penalties Cosafa Cup defeat against Madagascar in Polokwane was just another in a long line of disappointing results for the national team.
Bafana had their best chances to kill off their first game of the competition in the first half at Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Madagascar, having kept a clean sheet, completely shut down any attempt to play in the second, where they spoiled effectively, clattering into clashes and clipping at heels.
Still, that’s the sort of impediment a Bafana side of this much promise needs to be able to overcome.
SA lacked urgency and composure as the chips were laid down in the second half.
All the South Africans’ neatness from a week’s preparation with this youthful combination was good for nothing as far as points on the board were concerned.
The hosts now, as they did last year in Rustenburg, suffer the ignominy of going into the plate section.
Bafana coach Stuart Baxter’s XI promised much, laid in a 4-3-3 with the Mraitzburg United trio of Fortune Makaringe behind Lebohang Maboe and Siphesihle Ndlovu in the middle.
But up-front there was a question mark, with Luther Singh on the left and Gift Motupa in the middle, but Ryan Moon seemingly wasted on the right.
The coach had identified Madagascar’s physicality, and the pace of their wingers, Jaotomo Bourahim on the left and Tsito Razafindrasata on the right, as the dangers.
It was a decent first half for the South Africans almost completely shutting out a team with the advantage of having played in three group games.
Still gelling, Bafana created three clear chances, though, frustratingly, never came close enough with any of them.
Singh’s low ball into the area found Maboe, whose first-time shot was wide.
Moon’s clever chip over the top from midfield picked out the as intelligent run of Singh, who advanced and shot straight at goalkeeper Jean Randrianasolo.
Maboe was played down the right of the area, and his shot also picked out Randrianasolo, when he had Motupa inside.
Baxter put right his strange deployment up-front when he brought on a winger, Abednigo Mosiatlhaga, for Motupa to play on the right and moved Moon to centre-forward.
Soon after, Bourahim showed his pace streaking past Xulu down the left and struck at goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse.
If Madagascar had been cautious in the first half, they went into turtle mode in the second.
Bafana needed to score to take the pressure off. Aubrey Modiba collected a loose ball from Singh’s corner and cracked it against the left upright via the slightest of deflections.
Baxter’s remaining substitutions, Jamie Webber and Lyle Foster for Tariq Fielies and Maboe, came very late, in the 85th.
In the shootout, for Bafana Motjeka Madisha, Foster, and Modiba were successful. The Webber hit the post before Singh produced a weak effort saved by Randrianasolo.
For Madagascar, Rabeson Fetranianina hit the post off Pieterse with their first kick. Then Andoniaina Andrianavalona, Rakotoharisoa Baggio, Andriamirado Andrianarimanana and Tobisoa Sandratrinianina all scored.
* Marc Strydom is in Polokwane as a guest of Cosafa