Marks Maponyane (Gallo Images)
Bafana Bafana legend Marks Maponyane believes that South African soccer players have a mentality problem and lack big match temperament.
In an exclusive interview with Sport24, the former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates striker tackles the recent 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying exit of Bafana Bafana against Ghana, which turned sour after just 30 minutes.
A questionable penalty call by Senegalese referee Maguette Ndiaye was awarded to Ghana in front of their thousands of home supporters at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Andre Ayew netted the penalty to end Bafana’s dream of playing at the global showpiece for the first time since hosting the World Cup in 2010.
Monday, the South African Football Association (SAFA) believes that not only the penalty but at least 90% of the decisions made by Ndiaye’s was against Bafana Bafana.
SA’s leading football body has officially filed a complaint to FIFA and await a response in the coming weeks, with hopes of replaying the encounter.
Meanwhile, in his analysis of the 1-0 defeat, Maponyane believes that the Bafana players are not ruthless enough compared to the yesteryear players.
“You might work on a (football) philosophy, but in some battles, you need heart. You need to have a mean squad,” Maponyane tells Sport24.
“Let’s be honest, our goalkeeper (Ronwen Williams) is a nice guy. He doesn’t look mean or cruel.
“When I used to play, before a game, I told the guys, ‘this is a day to be cruel, not kind’ when we take the field.
“We lacked that (against Ghana). But they will learn over time that sometimes you’ve got to be mean.”
Maponyane then gave an example by comparing the two 2019 Africa Cup of Nations fixtures that Bafana Bafana played against Egypt and Nigeria.
South Africa advanced from the group stages to the round of 16, taking on host nation Egypt.
A late Thembinkosi Lorch goal shocked the Pharaohs and the African continent as Bafana secured a quarter-final encounter against Nigeria.
However, the Super Eagles did not falter in their quest and held their nerve, scoring a late goal through William Troost-Ekong, advancing to the semi-final.
“You look at every tournament. Remember after beating Egypt, and everybody got excited? Lorch scoring a goal (against Egypt).
“And then we came against Nigeria,” Maponyane then pauses before continuing, “we’re not training the whole day; our bodies are not conditioned to sustain that kind of demand.
“It’s not just the performance on the field; it is also the preparation. So, the body is not used to that.”
The 59-year-old says that the absence of strong mentalities in players is deeply entrenched in domestic football in South Africa.
He paints a picture of Kaizer Chiefs and their efforts of attempting to end their six-year trophy drought.
“Sometimes it is not the coach. It is always the material of lack of it that is in front of you,” he says.
“Look at Kaizer Chiefs, poor guys have been struggling since Steve (Komphela), when Giovani Solinas was there, they struggled.
“Steve came in three years, and they struggled. I don’t think Baxter will win a trophy because of one reason.
“You look at the team, and they don’t have that killer instinct, the heart. They win two matches and then lose against Stellenbosch at home.”
Maponyane yearns for local players to have the same strong mentalities that players possess in Europe.
“Watch Chelsea or Barcelona over the weekend and then again in the week when they play Champions League,” he continues.
“You get the same output, the same commitment. Why can’t we do the same?
“That is my only question,” said Maponyane.