Bafana Bafana completed their preparations last night (Sunday, 18 January) with a clean bill of health. Head coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba has selected his starting 11 to face Algeria in South Africa’s opening fixture of the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015 tournament. Bafana Bafana and the Dessert Foxes go head to head tonight at the Stade de Mongomo starting at 21:00 South African time.
Mashaba’s boys have enjoyed a run of 10 matches without defeat since he took over in the middle of last year. “This is our time, the time to make sure we establish ourselves and exert our authority and we do that not only by winning, but by making people aware that we exist. We must also make sure we are counted among the best. We have to make things happen, we don’t have to wait for them to happen. We must not be swallowed by the moment we are in now, tomorrow and yesterday will take care of themselves. We just have to do things to the best of our ability. The first 10 to 20 minutes of the game will be very crucial and we have addressed that at training. For a long time people never had respect for us, and for the boys to win 3-0 against Mali and hold Nigeria to a draw away, go to Sudan and Congo and return with results shows there is something that has happened, we have built a team for the future. The boys are now aware what it means to don the national team jersey,” said Mashaba ahead of this crucial clash. Mashaba is also aware that playing the number one ranked team on the continent could be a daunting task, but he has instilled confidence in his boys.
“Players need to be level headed. When we enter the field we don’t want to be terrorised by the opposition. We have to stand tall and say we are better than them and that will say to us that is half the job done, and all that has to do with confidence. If a team has to beat us they must work hard, we won’t go like sheep to slaughter and we will compete. We have proven in the qualifiers and in the recent matches that most teams can’t match us on pace as well as skill and those are the kind of things we will need. We also expect players to be disciplined tactically, know when to do things on the field. It is not about whom you have in the team but about what can they contribute to make the team do well. Big names will remain big names and you can’t take that away from them, but it’s 11 v 11 at the end of the day. We want team work from our players and nothing else,” added Mashaba. The coach has also thanked South Africans for their support. “We have taught our players not to think about themselves only. Back home we left behind 52 million plus people that are cheering and rooting for us. We don’t want to see them gloomy. To the people back home, thank you for your support, from churches, schools and everybody that has been backing this team. We are here in Equatorial Guinea and we will make you happy. Have confidence in us and we will definitely deliver what you expect from us,” he concluded.