The 2001/02 PSL Golden Boot winner has identified what he thinks is hurting the South Africa national team
Former Mamelodi Sundowns forward Ishmael Maluleke feels that ageing strikers and a lack of alternatives are what is haunting Bafana Bafana.
After the South African national team’s failure to qualify for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations following Sunday’s 2-0 defeat in Sudan, Maluleke has focused on Bafana’s attack while also touching on the goalkeeping department.
The injury to SuperSport United’s 33-year-old forward Bradley Grobler left coach Molefi Ntseki with Luther Singh as the most notable outright striker available.
In the last two qualifiers, Bafana had to rely on attacking midfielders Percy Tau and Themba Zwane for goals and the Brighton and Hove Albion man scored to salvage a point in the 1-1 draw against Ghana.
No Bafana striker was on the score sheet during the six qualifying matches, with Tau grabbing four goals, Zwane two, while other midfielders Bongani Zungu and Lebogang Phiri had a goal each.
“Like I always say, this is similar to the issue of goalkeeping. Whatever is happening within the PSL clubs with goalkeepers is the same thing that is happening with strikers,” Maluleke told Sowetan Live.
“Look at the number one goalkeepers at the so-called big clubs – Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns – they are all foreigners.
“Now number one goalkeeper at Chiefs is Nigerian [Daniel Akpeyi], Sundowns have a Ugandan [Denis Onyango] and at Pirates it is Ghanaian [Richard Ofori].
“This is similar to our strikers and we are struggling. We have strikers who are getting older, and we don’t have future forwards who we can look up to.
“If we have a striker like Grobler, who is an outright striker, being there and the other people who are competing with him are midfielders like Zwane and [Mduduzi] Mdantsane, who are not used to playing upfront, it becomes a problem for Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki to select a combination of forwards.”
On the Premier Soccer League scorers’ chart, Grobler leads the standings with 13 goals, followed by Swallows FC midfielder Ruzaigh Gamildien, Mdantsane, Namibia international Peter Shalulile and then Zwane, who has eight league strikes.
While most attention is being paid to the forwards, Bafana’s defence was also worrisome during these qualifiers, shipping in seven goals, including two from whipping boys Sao Tome e Principe, who lost all their six group games.