Stern test for Bafana against CAR
South Africa’s quest to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil sees them head to neutral Yaoundé, Cameroon, for a key Group A clash against Central African Republic on Saturday afternoon, kick-off at 4pm.
The political upheaval in CAR as well as the death of 13 South African soldiers in the country earlier this year forced CAF to move this ‘home’ match for the ‘Wild Beasts’ to a neutral venue, which should be an advantage for Bafana Bafana.
Gordon Igesund’s side showed that they are ready for the challenge of facing CAR when they defeated Lesotho 2-0 in a friendly this past weekend, with Orlando Pirates winger Tlou Segolela scoring both goals.
The friendly allowed Igesund to test out combinations in defence, an area where Bafana have been hard hit by injuries in the lead up to this match. Aside from missing the likes of Bongani Khumalo, Siyabonga Sangweni and Morgan Gould, South Africa have also lost Tsepo Masilela, Siboniso Gaxa and Siyanda Xulu to injuries, as well as influential midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi.
The good news is that goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who enjoyed a superb campaign with Kaizer Chiefs and was named Player of the Season recently, is now the team’s permanent captain and should bring plenty of confidence and form to the Bafana backline.
A repeat of the 2-0 victory South Africa recorded over CAR in their last qualifier back in March is what Igesund will be aiming for. With a match away to Group A leaders Ethiopia following just over a week later, the coach acknowledges that now is the time Bafana Bafana can take enormous strides toward Brazil 2014.
“These are two very important matches for us, and even though we are missing a few players through injuries or loss of form, things are looking very positive. The players I have selected for these matches are highly technical and ready for the challenge. They also know what is at stake. I am quite confident that we will pull through,” said Igesund upon naming his squad.
“These are huge encounters for us, and as for the CAR match, the most important thing is that we must not lose this game. If we don’t win then we need to have a draw so we can stay in the race because we still have to meet and hopefully beat Ethiopia the following week who are top of the group with two points ahead.”
Igesund added, “We beat CAR convincingly in Cape Town in March, and we want to continue with our attacking game like we did back then and I believe playing in a neutral venue will help in that regard. We have to be offensive if we want to get something out of the match against CAR or we will be putting ourselves in a very tight corner.”
2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers
CAF region, Group A
P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Ethiopia 3 2 1 0 4 1 +3 7
South Africa 3 1 2 0 4 2 +2 5
Central African Republic 3 1 0 2 2 4 -2 3
Botswana 3 0 1 2 1 4 -3 1
2/6/12 CAR 2 (Kethevoama 19’ 49’) Botswana 0
3/6/12 South Africa 1 (Mphela 77’) Ethiopia 1 (Saladin 28’)
9/6/12 Botswana 1 (Nato 38’) South Africa 1 (Gould 14’)
10/6/12 Ethiopia 2 (Saladin 36’ 88’) CAR 0
23/3/13 South Africa 2 (Matlaba 33’, Parker 71’) CAR 0
24/03/13 Ethiopia 1 (Getaneh 89’) Botswana 0
8/6/13 Botswana v Ethiopia
8/6/13 CAR v South Africa
15/6/13 Botswana v CAR
16/6/13 Ethiopia v South Africa
6-8/9/13 South Africa v Botswana
6-8/9/13 CAR v Ethiopia
South Africa squad
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns).
Defenders: Bevan Fransman (SuperSport United), Tebogo Langerman (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tefu Mashamaite (Kaizer Chiefs), Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk, Belgium), Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic), Ricardo Nunes (MSK Zilina, Slovakia).
Midfielders: Dean Furman (Doncaster Rovers, England), Daine Klate (Orlando Pirates), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), May Mahlangu (Helsingborg, Sweden), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Thandani Ntshumayelo (Orlando Pirates), Thuso Phala (Platinum Stars), Tlou Segolela (Orlando Pirates), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs).
Forwards: Richard Henyekane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Katlego Mashego (Moroka Swallows), Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo, Sweden).