BAFANA Bafana's Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) hangs on their crucial soccer match against Angola at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban this evening. Having drawn unconvincingly in their goalless opener against Cape Verde in Johannesburg on Saturday, Bafana face the prospect of a first-round exit that would see their standing in African football plummet even further.
South Africa were thrown a lifeline when the other two Group A teams, Morocco and Angola, also drew 0-0 on Saturday.
But to beat the Palancas Negras tonight, Bafana will need a shake-up from the team that started and were so ineffective against Cape Verde.
Times Media has come up with a line-up that our sports staff feel could make the difference.
The first and most important change is from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-3-3. The reason is obvious – South Africa need goals and aggression in attack. But it is also because these have been the two formations experimented with by Bafana coach Gordon Igesund in his six months in charge, and the latter has looked the more successful.
It was the system the coach used in his first and best match – the 1-0 defeat against Brazil. Igesund's initial plan was to have wingers – rather than wide midfielders and overlapping fullbacks – and get the ball forward quickly, attacking aggressively.
It worked superbly in Sao Paulo, where the home crowd applauded the opposition afterwards.
There are not too many changes Igesund can make to his defence, except perhaps recalling Tsepo Masilela at left-back for Thabo Matlaba.
The central partnership of Siyabonga Sangweni and captain Bongani Khumalo has been shaky, but it is too late to change and Igesund will not drop his skipper.
Itumeleng Khune is in superb form at goalkeeper and Anele Ngcongca remains for his experience.
In the three-man midfield, Dean Furman – not the best in terms of ability, but a trier with a high work rate – returns for the injured Kagisho Dikgacoi.
Reneilwe Letsholonyane keeps his place, having been lively against Cape Verde. Oupa Manyisa, not a favourite under Igesund, is our playmaker.
On the right, Thuso Phala tried hard in a difficult opening game and keeps his place. Lerato Chabangu would have been on the left, and, in our most radical change, the out-of-form Siphiwe Tshabalala would have been dropped.
Katlego Mphela is the lone central striker as Bernard Parker and Lehlohonolo Majoro are dropped. The 4-3-3 formation can only be successful if Bafana can finish their chances. Let's hope the gamble on Mphela saves Igesund.