We Are Still In It – Mashaba

South Africa head coach Shakes Mashaba believes that even though his side dropped two valuable points on Saturday, they are still very much alive in the 2017 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.  Bafana Bafana are in third place after three matches – five behind the leaders Cameroon, and four adrift of second-placed Mauritania.  Twice Bafana Bafana had taken the lead against Cameroon in Limbe but only got out with just a point from the match.
 
Mashaba says:  ‘Both countries clearly wanted to win the match and it could have gone either way, but we committed a lot of errors.  We caught them on a break three or four times but got nothing out of it.  The second goal was a free header and we know we should have defended better there.  They play good football and showed character and guts by coming from behind twice.  We had a good game plan and my players stuck to it, they did very well.  We still have we still have another match to play, so Cameroon must brace themselves for another hectic outing.  They have points in the bag so a draw will suit them on Tuesday, but we will take the game to them.  We are under tremendous pressure to win this clash, and I believe we have players capable of getting the business done.  For us the upcoming match is a decider, a draw will almost kick us out of the qualifiers or leave us with a huge mountain to climb.  There are nine points on offer, and if we win all our remaining matches it could make a huge difference to our course.’  Striker Tokelo Rantie scored the first goal for Bafana Bafana before midfielder Hlompho Kekana scored a cracker of a goal that is on everyone’s mouth, even beyond the borders of South Africa.  Mashaba says:  ‘I have seen many beautiful goals being scored but I don’t think I have seen anything like this.  This is the kind of goals that wins awards, and if he doesn’t win any then I don’t know.  It is the kind of goal that even had the opposition in awe and the home fans applauding – our entire bench was on its feet.’
 
The Bafana Bafana mentor is expected to ring some changes to the starting team after two players – Anele Ngcongca (calf strain) and Mpho Makola (hamstring strain) were stretchered off, while Thabo Matlaba suffered mild concussion.  They are still under medical observation.  The Bafana boss says:  ‘We will not make big changes, because even in the Saturday match the substitutions we made were forced ones, not tactical.  We will be guided by the recovery or non recovery of the injured players and take it from there.’  The players were given a break from training on Sunday, and will have their final session on Monday afternoon (28 March) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
 
South Africa plays Cameroon on Tuesday at 19:00.

Photo credit: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix