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Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Lethargic SA may pay heavy price
South Africa coach Stuart Baxter
Baxter has come under fire from the media
South Africa, hosts of the 2010 World Cup, have not only kissed goodbye to the 2006 finals in Germany but are also struggling to qualify for the Nations Cup in Egypt.

While only the top team in each of the five African groups will appear in Germany next year, the first three in each group head to Egypt for the biennial tournament.

Two places remain to be decided from Group Two, where Burkina Faso's surprise 3-1 win over the South Africans in Ouagadougou on Sunday threw the cat amongst the pigeons.

Bafana Bafana have now slipped to third place, three points behind leaders Ghana who boast 18 points.

The Burkinabe lie fourth on twelve points but would move into third place with victory in Uganda on 8 October and there is a result in South Africa's match with DR Congo on the same day.

The players rolled over like pussycats
Richard Maguire
A draw in South Africa would, however, eliminate Burkina Faso.

South African papers panned the performance of their national team in Burkina Faso, describing it as "shambolic" and the team as "outplayed, outfought and outdone".

"Shattered - SA's 2006 dream is over" proclaimed the back page of the Citizen newspaper, while Business Day mourned how a country that last year was ecstatic after winning the right to host the 2010 competition could not qualify for Germany 2006.

"The world will today wake up to the realisation that the hosts of the 2010 World Cup were not even able to qualify for the showpiece that preceded it," wrote deputy sports editor Mninawa Ntloko.

Several newspapers questioned the future of coach Stuart Baxter, accusing him of playing with consistently underperforming players at the expense of new rising stars.

On Sunday, Bafana Bafana arrived in Germany for a friendly against the national side on Wednesday.

The South African Press Association reported the mood was "sombre", but with team manager Stanley Tshabalala still defiant.

"We still have a job to do," he was quoted as saying. "Like it or not, we need to put the memories of the Burkina Faso nightmare behind us now."

But one commentator found a reason for consolation.

"Just remember that France didn't go to the two World Cups prior to hosting and winning it in 1998," said Richard Maguire of Africa's best-selling football magazine, Kickoff.

Maguire said South Africa showed "no spark" against Burkina Faso.

"The players rolled over like pussycats," he said in an interview. "When France didn't qualify prior to 1998, they were building towards something. I don't get a sense that any building is happening in South Africa."

Former coach Clive Barker, who guided South Africa to the Nations Cup title in 1996, also gave a withering assessment.

"The loss only shows how far backwards we have gone in Africa," he told The Star.

"But all we can do now is to roll back our sleeves and make changes and look forward to the future."


SEE ALSO
Joy and gloom across Africa
05 Sep 05 |  African


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