‘Slip-ups will cost Bafana’

2014-10-05 15:00

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A victory for BafanaBafana over Group A leaders Congo-Brazzaville in Pointe-Noire on Saturday guarantees a spot at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament.

The Red Devils top the group by two points, having won their opening two fixtures against Nigeria and Sudan, respectively. A win for Bafana will see them leapfrog Congo and take a further step towards qualifying for next year’s tournament in Morocco.

With the Confederation of African Football applying head-to-head instead of goal difference to separate teams in case of a tie, six points for Bafana against Congo will all but guarantee them a place at the Morocco finals.

If they win, Bafana will have amassed 10 points.

Coach Shakes Mashaba has already made it clear that they would be going for nothing less than a win despite expecting a hostile reception in Congo.

He said they would work on the players’ mental strength to prepare them for any eventuality.

“Trips inside the continent are never easy and our players need to be well prepared.

We expect a tough encounter as Congo also want to remain on top of the group and know that any slip-up will cost them,” said Mashaba, who announced his team last week.

For Bafana to realise their dream of qualifying for their first Afcon since Ghana 2008 (they played as hosts in 2013, and missed the 2010 and 2012 editions), the likes of Kermit Erasmus and Bongani Ndulula will have to be at their best in the attack.

To their credit, Bafana have not conceded in their two games so far, but they should guard against the Red Devils marksman Thievy Bifouma, who scored two goals against Nigeria, and captain Prince Oniangue, who also has two goals to his name.

In Claude Le Roy, Congo have an astute coach who has travelled the continent, and will be out to consolidate their position at the summit of the group.

Bafana have to be alert from the first whistle as the hosts have a tendency of pouncing early, as they did against Sudan when they scored in the first three minutes.

Bafana go into camp this evening before travelling to their Rustenburg base to familiarise themselves with an artificial pitch, the same surface that will be used for this match.

The team departs for Congo on Thursday.

The return leg will take place four days later at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

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