Zimbabwe next for Bafana after shot in the arm

2010-01-26 12:58

There’s a new air of optimism in the Bafana Bafana training

camp.

Although it is early days, Bafana players have shown a new

willingness to buckle down under the eagle eye and discipline of head coach

Carlos Alberto Parreira and in less than two weeks of his Durban training camp,

he has changed the attitude of players who seem to relish the hard work their

demanding master has been putting them through twice a day.

The players believe Parreira is on the right track after a string

of painful results last year under former coach Joel Santana.

Parreira appears to have halted Bafana’s alarming slide under

Santana, but admits he has plenty of work ahead before Bafana host Mexico in the

opening World Cup match at Soccer City on June 11.

Bafana showed urgency that was lacking under Santana when they

routed a hapless Swaziland 6-2 in a training match at the Chatsworth Stadium

last Saturday and that has set up what should be a thrilling southern African

derby against Zimbabwe at the new Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday night.

Kick-off is at 8.30pm.

Although no longer a heavyweight in Africa, Zimbabwe still have

enough top players to test the emerging new-look Bafana.

The key for Zimbabwe is their hard-working midfielder Tinashe

Nengomasha who leads by example. The Kaizer Chiefs star comes up against two of

his Amakhosi teammates in Bafana midfielders Siphiwe Tshabalala and Reneilwe

Letsholonyane.

Zimbabwe can also call on the services of another Chiefs youngster,

striker Knowledge Musona, Sundowns midfield powerhouse Esrom Nyandoro, plus

Platinum Stars goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini.

Parreira stressed he would not be trying to turn Bafana into a

Brazilian clone but was happy with the progress made in Durban: “We will

continue to play our brand of soccer, which is keeping possession and hitting

Zimbabwe on the counter attack.

“It worked well against Swaziland and we will keep working to try

and become better and cut out the mistakes.”

Bafana can expect plenty of pressure against Zimbabwe, according to

defender Lucas Thwala, who said this was the first step in a long road toward

June and 2010.

Said Thwala: “The pressure will intensify on the players with the

finals around the corner, but if we focus on the job at hand (Zimbabwe) and take

it one step at a time, we will succeed.

“We all know there is a lot to be done and we are up for the

challenge. We must not get sucked in and allow the pressure to get to us,

especially at this early stage of the coach’s preparation for 2010.”

Thwala admitted that while the match against Zimbabwe was a

friendly it was still vital to win it: “We want to continue where we left off

against Swaziland minus the mistakes we made in defence.

“It does not matter whether it is a friendly, an official match or

a practice one, we know that it is important now to win and boost the confidence

of the squad.”

Thwala said Parreira had spoken to the players about the defensive

lapses, but said the players would take a lot more positives into the clash

against Zimbabwe after scoring a record six goals against Swaziland.

Parreira has managed to rebuild Bafana’s spirit and at the same

time has brought back competition for places. Under Santana there were too many

players stuck in their comfort zones. Parreira has ended all that.

Parreira stressed he would not make many changes to the side that

started against Swaziland, but might be tempted to unleash new Mamelodi Sundowns

winger Franklyn Cale from the start.

Cale scored two stunning goals when he took to the field at the

start of the second half and looked in awesome form.

Orlando Pirates striker Gert Schalkwyk, who also scored twice in

the first half, has earned his place against Zimbabwe.

His combination play with his Bucs teammate, midfielder Teko

Modise, was a revelation and should be encouraged to develop for the good of

Bafana.


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