Pitso resists push to put Jali in starting line-up

2011-03-23 00:00

BAFANA Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane says he is unlikely to bow to pressure to include Orlando Pirates’ young midfield prospect Andile Jali in the starting line-up in Saturday’s crucial African Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt at Ellis Park.

After two games, South Africa top Group G with four points while three-time champions Egypt, after a disastrous start, are in last place (one point) and a win for Bafana could all but eliminate their toughest opponents in the group.

Jali, Pirates’ dynamic 20-year-old defensive midfielder, was the man of the match in South Africa’s unconvincing 1-0 friendly victory against Kenya in Polokwane on February 19 and there has been media pressure for Mosimane to start with the youngster against Egypt.

The Bafana coach, though, says he is more likely to opt for experience against a Hassan Shehata’s Pharoahs side, who, although showing clear signs of decline, still boast one of the strongest line-ups in Africa.

“It is a process. Yes, Andile is good,” Mosimane told Football365.co.za. “He’s got the passion and he’s got the energy, but for international football you need more games, lots of games.”

Mosimane said he expects young players in the current squad such as Jali, Thulani Serero, Daylon Claasen, Sifiso Myeni and Kermit Erasmus to play more matches for the under-23s before becoming Bafana starters.

Mosimane lost 1-0 against Egypt as the Bafana caretaker-coach in a friendly in London on November 15, 2006.

But Carlos Alberto Parreira’s replacement, drawing on some improved performances by the South Africans in the last two years, particularly in the 2009 Confederations Cup, believes the time is ripe to reverse that result this weekend.

“It is our time now … We have played Brazil and we showed who we are. I was also looking at the whole team of Spain [in a picture at the Royal Marang hotel in Rustenburg] I saw Pique, I saw Xavi, I saw Torres, I saw Iniesta …

“I said ‘oh, okay, we played them two times’. We also took Brazil to the 90th minute before conceding a goal and we beat France [in the World Cup]. So we should be able to play Egypt,” Mosimane argued.

“We believe we can win this game … we feel the pressure, but we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t like the pressure.”

In eight meetings Bafana and Egypt have each won four times, with three of SA’s victories coming at home.

Given turmoil surrounding the overthrowing of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on February 11, their FA had requested a postponement of Saturday’s crucial qualifier.

But Shehata believes the subsequent move towards true democracy in the country could just provide the pride and emotion to spark a revival in his ageing side.

“The game is going to be tough because all local competitions [in Egypt] have been halted for a while, and we didn’t prepare well for the match,” Shehata said.

“But what I’m sure of is that the players are high-spirited; they became more attached to Egypt after the revolution.”

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