Bafana seek momentum

2008-10-13 00:00

Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana is hoping his players can keep their winning momentum going when his charges host highly-rated Ghana in a friendly in Bloemfontein tomorrow.

“I am pleased to be playing a side of Ghana’s quality,” said Santana from the Free State capital.

“These are the types of friendly matches we need to give our players the necessary experience as we build and search for more talent for the Confederations Cup squad.”

Santana again stressed that he will be finalising his squad to play at the Confederations Cup in December. The Confederations Cup is the dress rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup finals and will be played in June next year. Fifa and the 2010 Local Organising Committee will use the tournament to iron out any problems ahead of the 2010 soccer showpiece.

The competition features world champions Italy, hosts Bafana and the six continental champions — Egypt, Spain, Iraq, New Zealand, Brazil and the United States.

Santana is on a good run at present. Bafana have won their past two matches and not conceded a goal in both games. A side comprising PSL players defeated Malawi in a friendly played at the Germiston Stadium recently and on Saturday Bafana had to dig deep to rediscover their old fighting spirit to beat Equatorial Guinea 1-0 to end their disappointing 2010 African Nations Cup qualifying programme on a winning note.

Bafana ended as runners-up to Nigeria on seven points, equal with Sierra Leone, but they failed to make it to the final qualifying round for the tournament to be staged in Angola.

Santana said the focus is now firmly on players pushing hard and playing for their places at the Confederations Cup.

“I have been pleased by the improvement over the past month.

“Wins over Malawi and that hard-fought victory over Equatorial Guinea have boosted the players and we need to keep this winning momentum going against Ghana, whom I rate as one of the best sides in Africa.”

Santana said that while the door is still open to players from the PSL to impress him, he is likely to opt for the same side that beat Equatorial Guinea against Ghana.

“The players need more time playing together. But I will be on the lookout for other promising players who might be good enough.”

The good news is that no players picked up any injuries playing on the cabbage patch in Equatorial Guinea where, by all accounts, the pitch was a disgrace.

Ghana won their 2010 Afcon Group Five on goal difference. The Black Stars ended their programme with a 3-0 home win over pointless Lesotho who failed to gain a point and ended as the whipping boys of the group.

The other three teams — Ghana, Libya and Gabon — all ended on 12 points.

Ghana’s squad is made up of overseas based players and, although this is a friendly, they will not want to lose to a side which has slumped to 85th on the world rankings — which is Bafana’s worst Fifa ranking since they were readmitted to the world controlling body in 1992.

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