‘We Will Go For A Win In Durban’

Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has warned his players not to lose focus as there is still another match to play on Tuesday evening.  Speaking in Benguela after his side cruised to a commanding 3-1 win over Angola in the first leg of Round 2 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifer played on Friday at Estadio Nacional de Ombaka, Mashaba insisted the second leg was equally important to carry forward the momentum.  South Africa has in recent times defeated Senegal to win the Nelson Mandela Annual Challenge, beat Costa Rica in a high profile international friendly before holding Honduras in a successful Central American tour as Mashaba’s boys continue to chalk up impressive wins.

In Friday’s first leg in Benguela, the home side opened the scoring inside the opening two minutes before the visitors retaliated with three goals to almost seal a place in the group stages.  Mashaba says:  ‘Angola are no pushovers but the boys played to instructions.  We knew they will throw everything at us. We managed to soak up the pressure especially after they scored, when in fact we should have scored seconds earlier but they played a counter attack and punished us with a soft goal.  I must applaud our boys for showing character by not dropping their heads after we conceded so early.  The second half started with the hosts in ascendency but our defence – especially the central pairing of Erick Mathoho and Rivaldo Coetzee – did very well and kept us in the match.  Angola was strechting us using their wingers but we stood firm.’

Bafana Bafana arrive in Durban on Saturday in the evening.  They will host Angola in the second leg on Tuesday at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.  Kickoff is at 19:00.

South Africa will be without industrious midfielder Andile Jali who was red-carded after receiving two yellow cards, both harsh calls by the Ethiopian match official.  Mashaba says:  ‘Jali’s absence means we have to adjust the team a bit and make sure we get someone to get into that position.  But we are not going to make big changes.  Jali does so much work for the team.  He defends, he makes us play and we need a player like that for Tuesday in Durban.  When we lost him to the red card it put us into trouble and playing with 10 men, I need to compliment the players for fighting hard to maintain the scoreline.  It is a job well done, but I need to emphasise that this was just a fight, the battle is not won yet.  We have to go to Durban and finish off what we started.’

Mashaba says South Africa will be gunning for another victory in Durban:  ‘We are not going to sit back and wait for them to come at us because we will be inviting trouble.  They are a good side going forward.  We need to make sure that we are cautious – meaning do things at the right time, attack them but still maintain shape, have numbers when we defend and attack and not give them space because they can hurt us.  We also need a goal to add to this three and seal the victory.’

Mashaba is also pleased his twin strikers – Tokelo Rantie and Thamsanqa Gabuza found the back the of the net.  Jali scored the third goal from the penalty spot.

Photo credit: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix