Respected former coach Ted Dumitru says Bafana Bafana will be the team to beat at the Africa Cup of Nations after their performance against Cameroon in a friendly on Saturday.
“This is remarkable from the boys. The way they responded in the second half clearly shows that the coach Shakes Mashaba is doing something incredible and I am sure they can emerge from their group without any doubt,” Dumitru said.
Bafana held the Indomitable Lions to a 1-1 draw in Gabon’s capital Libreville during an Afcon preparation match.
Despite their form looking suspect in the first-half when they allowed striker Vincent Aboubacar to score a free-kick, Dumitru was pleased with Bafana’s never-say-die attitude in the second half.
The South Africans replied with a goal from substitute Sibusiso Vilakazi, who smashed the ball home to level matters in the 77th minute.
Although placed in group C against No 1 ranked Africans; Algeria, Ghana and Senegal, the former Bafana coach said Mashaba’s men would emerge triumphant.
“They are fearless and that is one aspect that has been lacking previously. They showed against Cameroon that they can come back in the game and I believe they could have won the match if their finishing was right on the night.”
Dumitru however, felt the omitted Kaizer Chiefs defender Tefu Mashamaite would be sorely missed.
“Tefu has been good for Chiefs and I was surprised by his exclusion. He covers a lot of ground and can score goals too. The defence looks shaky and with Patrick Phungwayo out of the tournament after an injury, it would be lovely to have him back.”
Bafana take on Mali on Wednesday in another warm-up match ahead of the start of the tournament on January 17.
For their opening Afcon encounter Bafana face Algeria at the Estadio de Mongomo on January 19.
Dumitru expected a much-improved display as they make their final touch-ups ahead of the continental showdown.
“We have been good travellers lately and I don’t see why we cannot win the tournament. It is going to be tough but I put my money on Bafana as they have really surprised a lot of us.
“A good display against Mali will give the boys the much-needed confidence and I hope they start the game the way they finished against Cameroon.”