Awal optimistic after visa setback

2012-11-16 00:00

IT is quite remarkable that he still has a smile on his face given the events of the last few days, but Maritzburg United centreback Mohamed Awal was a picture of professionalism yesterday when he left the field after his side’s Harry Gwala training session.

Awal was set to make his international debut for Ghana against Cape Verde Islands in Portugal on Wednesday night, but an oversight from the Ghanaian Football Association meant that the 24-year-old was unable to obtain a visa in time and he was forced to stay in Pietermaritzburg.

“Of course I am disappointed, but these things happen and I know I will get my chance again,” the soft-spoken Awal told The Witness yesterday with a grin.

While there are no more fixtures scheduled for Ghana before January’s Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, there is likely to be another opportunity for Awal to put up his hand for a place in the squad for the tournament if another friendly is arranged by the association before then, as is expected.

“I must do everything I can to get into that 23-man squad,” Awal added.

His form this season has been sublime and has clearly caught the eye of his national selectors, but Awal’s immediate attention is focused purely on Tuesday night’s PSL clash with SuperSport United at Harry Gwala stadium.

After losing 2-0 to the Pretoria side in cup action just a little over two weeks ago, Awal is confident that this time out things will be different.

“This game is about revenge for us. We were beaten last time, but we are better prepared and we have learned from our mistakes,” he said. “We will not let our home supporters down again. They must come and watch us — we will do it for them.”

Striker Kermit Erasmus was a handful for SuperSport when the sides last met, but Awal refuses to focus all of his attention on one player.

“They [SuperSport] are a very good side and there are many good players,” he said. “We can’t just focus on one of them.”

That may be true, but one thing that does work in United’s favour this time around is that SuperSport are in Telkom Knockout action tomorrow against Pretoria neighbours Mamelodi Sundowns in the tournament’s semi-final.

With both sides desperate for a kickstart to their season, that clash is set to be a titanic struggle and SuperSport will surely put their best 11 out on the park. And travelling to take on a rested United just three days later will surely take its toll.

“That is very good for us, but we know what they are capable of and we just need to focus on what we are doing,” said Awal.

With his international career stalling in spectacular and heartbreaking fashion this week, Awal is desperate to get back on the pitch and show his national side what they were missing. He will get his chance to do that on Tuesday night. The match kicks off at 7.30 pm and will not be televised.

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