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Permutations to decide underwhelming Bafana’s 2019 Afcon fate

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Bafana Bafana could face early exit from 2019 AFCON action - Sports Leo

When the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) groups were announced and South Africa was paired with Ivory Coast and Morocco, there was always a feeling that Bafana Bafana’s route to the knockout phase could come down to permutations.

And now after some lackluster performances in Egypt so far – with just one goal scored and one win and two defeats from their Group D campaign, that’s indeed exactly where Bafana stand.

And rather ironically – because due to their underwhelming showing so far, Bafana have a fair chance of staying in the competition.

After Monday night’s 0-1 defeat to Morocco, South Africa stand third on the ‘ranking of third-placed teams’ table. The top four sides on that table will join the 12 teams which finished first and second in their groups, in the last 16.

So, what do Bafana need to advance?

There are just four group matches to play, all of them taking place on Tuesday evening.

In Group E, Mauritania play Tunisia and Angola are up against Mali.

With one point, Mauritania will need to win in order to potentially overtake Bafana (that would be assuming they don’t end up in the top two in their group and qualify automatically).

Angola meanwhile have two points and a goal difference of 0 (Bafana’s goal difference is minus 1).

That means that a draw for Angola against Mali would see them above South Africa, who would then go down to fourth on the table, but still qualify.

In Group F meanwhile, Benin face up to defending champions Cameroon while Guinea-Bissau clash with Ghana.

Like Angola, Benin also have two points on the board and a better goal difference than Bafana and could therefore also go above Stuart Baxter’s side with a draw.

Guinea-Bissau are meanwhile in the same boat as Mauritania – on one point, but knowing that victory would probably see them through to the next round.

To put it simply, Bafana need to hope that Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania both lose or draw, and they need to hope that at least one of Angola or Benin lose.

Bafana fans will be keeping a close eye on proceedings, their loyalty switched for the evening to Tunisia, Mali, Cameroon, and Ghana – all traditional heavyweights in African football, praying that Tuesday’s results go according to the rankings list.

Head coach Stuart Baxter meanwhile attempted to find positives in the defeat against Morocco on Monday.

“We tried to win and played very well in the first half,” he said. “But this is football, in 30 seconds everything changes. We had a very good game, but we won nothing. I hope we don’t regret that.”

The sentiment back home is rather different though, with the feeling that the national team has underperformed, especially on the attacking front.

But should Bafana indeed scrape through to the knockout phase, they do potentially have the players to beat anyone on their day – provided they can shake off the shackles – perhaps mentally – which have seemingly been holding them back.

In partnership with ANA and Mediapix

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