Bafana hope to break the Nigeria ‘hoodoo’

2014-11-18 00:00

BAFANA Bafana have completed their home preparations for their final Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria.

South Africa travelled to Nigeria yesterday for a date with the Super Eagles tomorrow at the Ibom International Stadium in Akwa Ibom State.

Bafana Bafana held their last training session at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto, yesterday morning.

Thulani Serero, midfielder and man of the match against Sudan, sat out the session due to a hamstring injury, while striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, who missed the match because of an ankle sprain, was able to train with the squad. Both players travelled to Nigeria.

South Africa have already qualified for the Afcon 2015 tournament following the 2-1 victory over Sudan at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday.

Bafana have also won the group as they are sitting pretty at the top with 11 points, four ahead of second-placed Nigeria and Congo who are level on seven points each. Sudan are bottom of the table with three points.

But head coach Shakes Mashaba is not allowing his players to take the foot off the pedal as they meet one of the superpowers of African football.

“We are defending well but there are still some things we need to do, especially in the middle of the park where we are not picking opponents tight and that will cause us problems, especially against a team like Nigeria who are very good in that area,” said Mashaba.

“Nigerians don’t want to lose against South Africa, that alone will make this match a tough one and we also have to break the hoodoo that we always lose when we play against them. We have to go out there positive and believe we will do well.”

With the likes of Serero doubtful for the Nigeria match, Mashaba is contemplating changes to the starting 11.

“Yes, there will be one or two changes to the playing personnel but we don’t want to break the rhythm of the team because they are doing very well. At the same time, we have to give other players a chance to see what they have to offer,” said Mashaba.

South Africa have not lost in the five qualifiers played so far — with two away wins, two homes draws and one win at home — a record they would like to maintain. They have scored seven goals and conceded only one.

“Our away record is very good, and we can only hope for the best in the upcoming match. What makes me happy is that we have managed to score two goals at home, which was a challenge in our past home games.

“I will be even happier if we score some goals in Nigeria and that will give us the dignity we deserve. Winning three away games will definitely give us the respect we deserve as a nation. Once we beat Nigeria, the reigning African champions, it will bring confidence to the whole squad and to the country, and also finish the qualifiers without a defeat,” concluded Mashaba.

Bafana take on Nigeria at 7 pm tomorrow.

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