Bafana Bafana travels to Mauritania this afternoon (Thursday, 3 September) full of confidence of returning with three points. South Africa will play the host country in Nouakchott on Saturday, 5 September. This will be in a crucial CAF Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 qualifier scheduled for 19:00 South African time (17:00 local time in Mauritania).
Bafana Bafana’s flight leaves at 13:00 with 24 players – instead of the initial 25 called up – after Kaizer Chiefs defender Tsepo Masilela failed to report for national team duty. The matter has since been referred to the Association to deal with. Shakes Mashaba’s charges had their final training session on home soil on Thursday, 2 September.
Midfielder Mandla Masango says they know what lies ahead: ‘It’s going to be a tough encounter because Mauritania are an unknown nation to us, we haven’t played them before. We are well aware of how they played against Cameroon in their opening qualifier so we cannot afford to take things for granted, we should go there and give it our all. We have a good group of players, full of confidence and a lot of experience but we have to put that to good use and ensure we return victorious, and we are positive we will get the results we want because a negative result will set up back big time in the qualifiers.’ This is the first time Masango is in the national team since his move to Denmark to Randers FC. He also scored on debut for his new club.
Masango says: ‘For me coming to the national team as an overseas-based player is the same feeling. It’s always an honour to represent South Africa and I feel grateful to have received a call up because it’s every player’s dream to play for their country. And about my new home there is a lot of difference with the kind of football I played here at home. There they move the ball quicker, they realise an empty space even before they even receive the ball, they don’t waste time on the ball and it keeps moving they are more tactically aware of what is happening. That side football is like chess, one wrong move they punish you so you must make sure you are alert all the time.’
He is happy the move materialised as it was always his wish to play abroad. He says: ‘In life no pain no gain, you have to know what you want and stick to what you want because at the end of the day your life is in your hands, nobody owns your life. I thank God for the opportunity because some players don’t get a chance to play overseas so I count myself as blessed.’ Bafana Bafana return to South Africa on Sunday, 6 September. They are expected to land at 06:00.
Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI