Bafana Bafana have safely arrived in Nouakchott, Mauritania after a ten-hour flight which included an hour’s stopover for refuel in Libreville, Gabon. The South Africans will have their last training session on Friday afternoon (4 September) before taking on the home team, Les Mourabitones, in Nouakchott on Saturday, 5 September at the Olympic Stadium in a CAF Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 qualifier. Kick-off is at 19:00 (17:00 local time in Mauritania).
Bafana Bafana arrived to a humid and hot place with temperatures hovering around the 29 degrees Celsius mark just after 23:00. After a slow start in the qualifiers with a goalless draw against Gambia in Durban in June, Bafana Bafana know that nothing but a win help them be within touching distance with current log leaders Cameroon. Midfielder Dean Furman says: ‘We don’t know so much about them but this is a must win game for us. We got off to a draw in the first match of the qualifiers and we know how competitive these groups are as our last AFCON experience showed us, so it is important to get those three points and that’s all we will be playing for.’
The SuperSport United player believes it should not matter where they play, the important thing is the result. Furman says: ‘I wouldn’t say we play well away, every game is different. I think our home form is something we need to work on where we need to impose ourselves and make it a difficult place for teams when they come to us. Before the last AFCON our away form was being questioned and these questions always throw themselves to us but we have to apply ourselves well whether we are away or home and for a win. And we have a lot of experience in the team to go with, which is very important. The more experience we have the better it is for the squad – it is good to see Itu back and fully fit, he will be a big player for us – both on and off the pitch – and that kind of experience from playing on the continent is vital for us and can only bode well for us trying to have a successful campaign.’
His sentiments were echoed by defender Anele Ngcongca: ‘All the games we play are very important, but this one on Saturday is more so because we did not do well in our first game when we played a draw against Gambia so this one is a must win to catch up with Cameroon who are top of our group. We have to go out there and give them the respect they deserve but not too much because we both want the same thing – three points and nothing else – so we have to use our quality to come back victorious. I believe the team is well prepared, we must go out there and deliver.’ Ngcongca has just made a move from Racing Genk in Belgium to League 1 side Troyes in France.
He says: ‘I haven’t had a chance to meet my teammates, I only went there to sign and came to South Africa. I am really looking forward to the meeting and the new challenge that awaits me there. You will recall I have been in Belgium for nine years and I believe it was a good time for me to change. As you know that France is one of the top leagues around the world so it will fantastic to play against top players like Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Cavani, so I am really looking forward to that chance.’
Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA