Pitso looks to test new combinations

2011-11-11 12:42

Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane hopes to find new combinations in their highly anticipated Nelson Mandela Challenge clash against Ivory Coast in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.

Scoring goals was a huge concern in the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup, the 2010 World Cup and, critically, the ill-fated 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign in which South Africa crashed out at the final hurdle.

“This might just be a highly tactical game that comes at a difficult time when we are not really on top mentally [after the Afcon disappointment],” Mosimane said.

“We should be coming out of that. If we win against Ivory Coast, it’s good for us. This game will show us where we are, and what qualities we have.

“I brought in a few strikers to help, a few combinations to try out. We have always gone with two strikers at a time and haven’t got the goals, which is an indication that it’s not always about the numbers but about finding the right balance in the team.

“I’ve analysed the whole six games we played in the Afcon qualifiers, and came out with the same solution, that we need to take our chances in the field of play.”

As the team approaches a new phase, working towards hosting the 2013 Afcon tournament and playing the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Mosimane was pleased with the return of his core players – captain Steven Pienaar, Kagisho Dikgacoi and Tsepo Masilela – who missed the crucial last two matches against Niger and Sierra Leone with injuries.

“I think the game will be a good midfield battle. They [Ivorians] have big experience in their squad,” Mosimane said.

“I’m happy to have my most experienced players back, especially Dikgacoi. I’ve got Pienaar and Tsepo back, and Reneilwe Letsholonyane missed the Niger game but he is also OK. We now are looking a little stronger and have a little bit of ‘presence’ in the team,” said the coach.

Mosimane’s preparations, though, were hampered by some injury concerns, following the withdrawal of defender Bongani Khumalo, and with the medical team showing caution to midfielders Teko Modise (knee), George Maluleka (Achilles) and Granwald Scott (hamstring).

“There has been a good attitude in camp this week,” Mosimane said.

“We are trying to sway the mood from our last match, and the players have been responding well. There have been a few injuries, but out of the three players in camp, George has been looking OK.”

While it might be a highly tactical game against Africa’s highest-ranked nation, Mosimane hoped the international friendly fixture would be a good spectacle for the sold-out crowd at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“We should not show too much respect for Ivory Coast,” Mosimane said.

“Let’s find a combination in the field of play and see if it works on the day. We should not be afraid or shy away from doing that.”

Bafana depart for Harare on Sunday for another friendly match against Zimbabwe at Rufaro Stadium on Tuesday evening.

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