The former Bloemfontein Celtic assistant coach was pleased with how Bafana Bafana played despite the draw against the Black Stars

South Africa head coach Molefi Ntseki has responded to his critics after he was lambasted for fielding ‘seven defenders’ against Ghana at home on Thursday night. 

Bafana Bafana came back to hold the Black Stars to a 1-1 draw in their penultimate 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at FNB Stadium and now South Africa need to avoid a defeat against Sudan on Sunday in order to qualify for the finals. 

Defenders Thapelo Morena, S’fiso Hlanti, Innocent Maela, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Siyanda Xulu and Rivaldo Coetzee were all named in the starting line-up by Ntseki, while defensive midfielder Andile Jali also started against the Black Stars.

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“I think, if you’re talking of seven [defenders], I don’t know those seven because we had 11 players who were meant to attack and get us goals,” Ntseki told the media.

“But when you look at the seven, maybe it’s because you were counting when we were in defence, but you were not counting when we were in attack to get the numbers right.”

Hlatshwayo, Xulu and Maela were deployed in central defence, while Morena and Hlanti operated as wing-backs with Coetzee and Jali playing as holding midfielders in a 3-5-2 formation.

Morena and Hlanti found themselves in good positions in the opposition’s half, but the two full-backs could not take their chances.

Ntseki was pleased with how the team played, even though Jali picked up a groin injury in the first-half and he was replaced by Ben Motshwari.

“With our team today, they executed the plan very well. I am personally very happy, in terms of the little time we had to prepare this team, with some players having withdrawn,” he continued. 

“I think I need to remind you that when we won against Sao Tome, we had Bongani Zungu, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Dean Furman [in midfield] and the three of them were not here this time, so we had a new pairing in midfield.

“The new pairing [Andile Jali and Rivaldo Coetzee], fortunately, are from the same team and they did very well.

“Ben Motshwari coming in gave us so much balance in defence and attack, and I think credit must be given to the players for how they applied themselves.”

Sudan will host South Africa at Al-Hilal Stadium in the city of Omdurman.