Bafana Bafana defender Anele Ngcongca has warned his teammates not to take things easy when they come up against Angola in the second leg of Round 2 of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Ngcongca and his defensive partners – Erick Mathoho, Thabo Matlaba and Rivaldo Coetzee – played a pivotal role in securing a 3-1 victory for South Africa in the first leg played on Friday at Estadio Nacional de Ombaka in Benguela, Angola. The France-based defender says: ‘It is a very important match and the job hasn’t been done yet, I think we need to use the same approach as we had in the first leg. We should not sit back and invite them to put pressure on us, so we need by all means to go for a win and get into the group stages. Many will see the score line and think it was an easy match, but far from it. It was actually a very difficult match and we showed a lot of character by coming from behind to win. We have to be focussed and organised from the first whistle and be alert as not give away an early goal like we did. We know they will come at us as they need a goal and we don’t have to allow them to do that.’
His concerns come after very interesting results in the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifiers. Among others, Egypt lost to Chad, Mali lost to Botswana, Nigeria held by Swaziland and Comoros drew with Ghana. Ngcongca says: ‘If we can go back to what happened to us against Mauritania it shows that the international football has changed a lot, there are no small teams anymore and everyone wants to be at the World Cup in Russia in 2018. The results that we saw these past few days in the qualifiers tell a story that all the teams are up to the task and are ready to challenge the so called big guns. There have been too many surprises and we don’t want to fall into that category. We have to extra careful, and not take things for granted. The first leg is behind us and now we are starting a new game. The most important thing is how we start. We need to win every duel, and be in control of every department on the field for us to come out victorioous. It will also be a nice feeling to also give the supporters something as we are playing at home.’
Bafana Bafana and Angola face off on Tuesday, 17 November at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Kick off is at 19:00. Tickets for the match are still available for R80 all round and can be purchased at Computicket, Shoprite, Checkers and Shoprite/Checkers.
Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI