South Africa

Former Bafana striker glad Makgopa is off the mark at AFCON

Former Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates striker Katlego Mashego has given his verdict on Bafana Bafana forward Evidence Makgopa, while also addressing areas where he needs to improve.

Makgopa answered his critics in Bafana’s 2-0 win over Morocco on Tuesday when he opened the scoring, before Teboho Mokoena put the game to bed with a free kick late in the second half.

Before the game against the Atlas Lions, the Buccaneers striker had been firing blanks at the tournament. That led to some fans calling for him to be dropped from the team but coach Hugo Broos stuck to his man who delivered when it mattered most.

“He’s (Makgopa) our number 9 and the most important thing that he should do is to score goals. I wasn’t necessarily upset but I was not okay after he won the penalty in the first game and he didn’t take it,” Mashego said on Radio 2000’s Game On.

“We also got a penalty against Namibia and I would have expected a number 9 as someone we rely on for goals to take those penalties. Take nothing away from Percy Tau because he’s our star player but as a number 9, I would we give that responsibility to a player of Evidence’s caliber.

“He’s doing a great job, he holds up the ball nicely and he runs the channel very well. He was due a goal in this tournament and I’m glad he got it in the most important game of them all. He knew that he needed a goal, the coach and his teammates knew that too because once he gets a goal, he will be confident. You could see after he got the goal that he was a bit more confident and a bit more assured in his movement.”

Movement advice

Mashego found the back of the net with regular ease in a distinguished playing career that also saw him play for SuperSportUnited, Golden Arrows, Moroka Swallows ChippaUnited. The former PSL golden boot winner reckons that the hardworking Makgopa needs to learn how to occupy the danger area in the final third.

“He moves a lot and sometimes and I think he needs to have a variation,” the PSL legend added.

“The way he moves, he ends up being in the wrong places and ends up being the one who is crossing the ball when he should be the one in the box. He needs to be a bit clever in the box, a bit naughty and streetwise.

“These are things than he can improve on if he’s willing to learn but I think he needs to work the box a little more smarter. That will come with time while playing at highest level and seeing what other top strikers are doing because he has all the attributes to be a great number 9.”

Bafana will face surprise package Cape Verde in Saturday’s quarterfinal at Stade Charles Konan Banny in Yamoussoukro for a place in the last four.