Mabokgwane not bothered by Senegalese players

2015-01-23 12:32

Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has made two changes to the starting XI against Senegal in their second match of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea, today.

Jackson Mabokgwane starts in goals in place of Darren Keet, who played in the 3-1 loss against Algeria in the opening match.

Keet came under severe criticism after he let in three goals – especially the third goal, which slipped under his body – against Algeria on Monday

But Mabokgwane rallied behind him regardless.

The Mpumalanga Black Aces goalkeeper believed Keet has the mental strength to make amends and prove he is still best.

“He was sad and down, blaming himself after the game but he will bounce back. As much as I think he could have done better, I know these things happen in football. I honestly feel it was not his fault and I still believe he did well, especially in the first half when he was able to command his area,” said Mabokgwane.

He said Bafana would have to improve communication and organisation at the back in their next games. He said this was their undoing against Algeria on Monday.

Mabokgwane said he was not concerned about playing against tall Senegalese players.

“I am not bothered at all and this is what my team-mates are all saying. We have our own strength and we should focus on that rather than the opposition. We know we are shorter and quicker and we need to exploit them because we know they are slow at the back.”

He said it was not a big deal playing against tall players, especially for a goalkeeper.

“I used to be scared when I grew up until I got to play against them in the junior teams. I have been in these situations before and it is easy for goalkeepers because we have advantage of using our hands to either punch or to handle the ball. But it is all about communication and organisation at the back.”

Mabokgwane said he was enjoying himself in his maiden Afcon tournament and said he was looking forward to many more in the future.

He urged the public to continue supporting the team even during difficult times, saying this would go a long way in lifting the team.

The back four for tonight’s match consists of Anele Ngcongca at right-back, Thabo Matlaba at left-back and the central defence pairing of Eric Mathoho and Thulani Hlatshwayo.

Mathoho returns after a one-match suspension following two yellow cards in the qualifying stages of the tournament. He takes the place of Rivaldo Coetzee, who was stretchered off with a knee injury in the match against Algeria.

Mathoho and Mabokgwane will be playing in their first Afcon tournament.

The midfield remains unchanged with Dean Furman, Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa and Thuso Phala, who scored South Africa’s only goal in the opening match. Furman will once again captain the side.

Tokelo Rantie and Sibusiso Vilakazi also retain their places upfront.

- Additional reporting by Sapa

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