Siboniso Gaxa, Bafana’s defending wall?
Siboniso Gaxa, 28, a local hero for Kaizer Chiefs and an experienced defender for the national team, will play a critical role in taking Bafana Bafana to great heights in the Africa Cup of Nations. But will his experience and his exposure against some of the best strikers in recent history be enough to keep the Bafana Bafana scoresheet clean?
Shaun Bartlett, one of South Africa’s most celebrated strikers, analyses Siboniso’s abilities.
1. Solid pedigree
Siboniso’s pedigree is excellent. He played for Supersport United for six seasons and represented Mamelodi Sundowns and Belgian club Lierse.
This season he formed part of the Kaizer Chiefs outfit that went unbeaten for 10 straight games.
As a defender, he was part of the Bafana Bafana squad for six seasons, and also featured in the national squad for the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
That level of experience is a vital component for South Africa.
2. Fast on his feet
One of Siboniso’s greatest qualities is that he can deal with express pace and can shut down attacking midfielders and strikers.
He is not a static defender – most international teams expect their defenders to move forward when the opportunity presents itself, and this is something Siboniso does successfully.
His energy and ability to find his strikers with good crosses make him an asset to Bafana Bafana.
3. Expert crossing
Many international coaches expect their defenders to be able to find the midfielders and wings with pinpoint passing.
Siboniso is an experienced player who has learned and perfected the trade since 2002.
He possesses one of the very best crosses in South Africa, which obviously gives the strikers opportunities to head it home or use a lethal right boot to find the back of the net.
4. Good partnership
Kaizer Chiefs are currently the PSL log leaders and Siboniso is at the heart of their defensive wall, which explains why the Soweto giants have not conceded too many goals.
The key question was whether he has lost much of his top attributes since his injury, and he has answered his critics in style.
His partnership with goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has contributed to that good defensive record.
The fact that Khune is also the number-one goalkeeper in the country means that their partnership will continue at the Africa Cup of Nations, which is to Bafana Bafana’s advantage.
5. Protecting your house
As coach, I always tell my players that the goal mouth is your house, and you have to defend your zone with passion. Siboniso does this very well.
It’s not simply about raw physical attributes – you also need street wisdom and the ability to read play as to when to go forward and when to stay back. He has done this excellently for club and country, and displays first-class awareness.
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- Fanie Heyns, iMag