Bafana keeper shows die-hard spirit

2010-05-13 11:55

Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, Rowen Fernandez, is determined to make

the most of his chances of playing for his country at next month’s 2010 Fifa

World Cup.

Fernandez was given “zero” chance for match time after he damaged

his knee ligaments playing for his German club Arminia Bielefeld but he has

beaten the odds and is pushing hard to convince the Bafana coach to give him a

chance when Bafana host Thailand in a crunch friendly at the new Mbombela

Stadium in Nelspruit on Sunday (kick-off is at 3pm).

Fernandez said: “I would love to silence my critics by doing my

talking on the field.”

Tickets to the match are already sold out with over 30?000 sold for

the first match at this new purpose-built venue.

Fernandez said he never lost hope despite pessimistic doctors

telling him his chances of playing at the tournament in June were nil.

He said: “I was given no chance of playing at the World Cup after

the injury but I never take ‘no’ for an answer. I had help from my friends and

family and fought hard to regain my fitness.

“The doctors this week gave me the all-clear and now it is up to

the coach. I am fit and ready and hope to play against Thailand.”

Mamelodi Sundowns right back, Siboniso Gaxa, said Bafana would not

take Thailand – now coached by former Manchester United and England captain

Bryan Robson – lightly.

Gaxa said: “We know what is expected of us and that is to win big

and score a lot of goals, something we have not done recently. We know little

about Thailand and that makes our task tougher but we are determined to show our

fans we can play good football and win.”

Gaxa is using this match to secure the right-back berth ahead of

the arrival next week of two European based right-backs, Bryce Moon (Greece) and

Belgium-based youngster Anele Ngcongca.

Kaizer Chiefs winger, Siphiwe Tshabalala, said while Thailand are

an unknown quantity, they would make a huge mistake underestimating them.

Tshabalala said: “As a midfielder I agree we need to start scoring

more goals and Sunday is a good time to start.”

Tshabalala, who is one of the players Parreira is expected to

pencil in for the opening World Cup clash against Mexico on June 11 at Soccer

City in Johannesburg, admitted there was always pressure on him and the other

Bafana players to perform.

“I want to use the game against Thailand to show I can live up to

expectations and keep up the high standards I have set for myself for the World

Cup and I hope to make the entire nation proud,” he said.

Parreria is hoping his star striker, Katlego Mphela, will be among

the goals against Thailand. The coach might partner the Sundowns target man with

West Ham United striker, Benni McCarthy, who joined the squad on

yesterday.

McCarthy is expected to get some game time as he has struggled with

injuries since joining his London-based English Premiership club in January and

has less than a month to get match fit.


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