Bafana Bafana have complete their home preparations for the final CAF Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015 qualifier against Nigeria which will take place in Uyo, Nigeria. South Africa travels to that country on Monday afternoon for a date with the Super Eagles on Wednesday at the Ibom International Stadium in Akwa Ibom State. Kick-off is 18:00 local time in Nigeria (19:00 SA time).
Bafana Bafana held their last training session at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto on Monday morning. Midfielder and Man of the Match against Sudan, Thulani Serero sat out the session due to a hamstring injury, while striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, who missed the match because of an ankle sprain, was able to train with the squad. Both players are travelling to Nigeria with Bafana Bafana.
South Africa have already qualified for the AFCON 2015 tournament following a 2-1 victory over Sudan at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday. Bafana Bafana have also won the group as they are sitting pretty at the top with 11 points, four ahead of second-placed Nigeria and Congo who are level on seven points each. Sudan is bottom of the table with three points.
But head coach Shakes Mashaba is not allowing his players to take the foot off the pedal as they take on one of the superpowers of African football. “We are defending well but there are still some things we need to do, especially in the middle of the park where we are not picking opponents tight and that will cause us problems especially against a team like Nigeria which is very good in that area. Nigerians don’t want to lose against South Africa, that alone will make this match a tough one and we also have the assignment to break the hoodoo that we always lose when we play against them. We have to go out there positive and believe we will do well,” says Mashaba. With the likes of Serero doubtful for the Nigeria match, Mashaba is contemplating changes to the starting eleven.
“Yes there will be one or two changes to the playing personnel but we don’t want to break the rhythm of the team because they are doing very well. At the same time we have to give other players a chance to see what they have to offer,” added Mashaba. South Africa has not lost in the five qualifiers played so far – with two away wins, two homes draws and one win at home – a record they would like to maintain. They have scored seven goals and conceded only one. Our away record is very good, and we can only hope for the best in the upcoming match. What makes me happy is that we have managed to score two goals at home which was a challenge in our past home games. I will be even happier if we score some goals in Nigeria and that will give us the dignity we deserve. Winning three away games will definitely give us the respect we deserve as a nation. Once we beat Nigeria, the reigning African champions, it will bring confidence to the whole squad and to the country and also finish the qualifiers without a defeat,” concluded Mashaba. Bafana Bafana are scheduled to fly of South Africa at 16:00 and will have one last training session in Uyo on Tuesday.