Mashaba confident despite earlier concerns

2011-06-18 13:51

Having voiced his concerns earlier in the week on the non-availability of some key players, South African Under-23 coach Shakes Mashaba remains confident that his available squad will do the job against Benin in their 2012 London Olympics qualifier at Rand Stadium.

South Africa has to overturn a 3-1 away defeat from the first leg a fortnight ago to progress through to the eight-team final stage of the qualifiers for the tournament.

Star players in Orlando Pirates midfielder Andile Jali and Ajax Amsterdam forward Thulani Serero along with Kamohelo Mokotjo of Feyernoord were declared unavailable for selection for the crucial encounter for junior national side.

“That is something I don’t want to dwell on, I have already said enough about it. We have to concentrate on the boys that we do have now, and it is a very good squad,” said Mashaba.

Adding further misery from the team that is camped in Rustenburg this week in preparation for the match was the injury enforced withdrawal of Bloemfontein Celtic defender Eric Mathoho (groin) while AmaZulu goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo is nursing a swollen arm.

“We have been preparing for this game in Rustenburg and everything has been good with the exception of not having Mathoho and Khuzwayo available,” he said.

They face a side that impressed Mashaba with their physical prowess and their sleek passing game two weeks ago.

Though, he realises the distinct possibility of the West Africans playing “ugly” this time around by placing all players behind the ball in their stance of defending their two goal cushion.

A draw – ugly or not – will be good enough for the Beninois.

“Benin have strong boys, they are committed and quick when going forward, we have to make sure that we stop them from playing.

“But also, they might come here and ’park the bus’ to defend their lead, we have to make sure that we get the ball behind their defence.”

“We need to move the ball forward very quickly and look at attacking them with crosses from the flanks, and I believe that we can do that.”

Baby Bafana, in fact, have to win 2-0 while also ensuring that they keep their oft feeble defence in tact to guarantee passage to the group stages.

If there was an Achilles Heel with the team then it is defence where they have been guilty of conceding late and unnecessary goals in the last year.

Going forward, the wing pair of Themba Zwane and Mandla Masango has formed a goal-fested combination with lanky striker Bongani Ndulula.

The match kicks off at 3pm.



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