Shakes decides on 11

2014-11-14 00:00

BAFANA Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba confirmed yesterday that he knows his starting 11 for tomorrow’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan in Durban.

While he is yet to name his new captain — that announcement is likely to come tonight — Mashaba acknowledged that he had consulted his technical team and that together they had all but settled on their lineup. Victory for Bafana tomorrow will ensure that they book their place at Afcon 2015, wherever that may be held.

“As a technical committee we have our team settled already,” said Mashaba. “The only thing we have to do now is go and deliberate on another couple of positions.”

It appears that the captaincy is all that is left to discuss, and the coach conceded yesterday that there were a couple of names that were being considered.

“We are still trying to check the players. It is not going to be an easy decision,” the coach said. “The duty of the captain is just to go and toss the coin and come back and tell the players which way they are facing. The only thing we really look at is when they are in camp, how the captain can bring the squad together. We’ve got one or two names. We’ll just look at our criteria and look at who fits it best and then we will announce it.”

Dean Furman and Anele Ngcongca are frontrunners for the honour, while midfielder Andile Jali is another who comes into contention. But Mashaba also hinted yesterday at a “surprise”.

Despite having beaten Sudan 3-0 away in the first round of Afcon qualifiers back on September 5, little is known about the visiting side. Mashaba is aware of their ability to attack from the wings, but has instead devoted this week to focusing on his own side’s game plan.

“We are trying to work on playing as a unit — shifting as well as picking up tight. Today [yesterday] we will try to work on going forward quickly,” said Mashaba, who is undefeated since taking over as Bafana coach. “We want to go forward in numbers. There has to be a reason for everything we do. They [Sudan] mostly use the width and we need to prevent them from doing that.”

The enormity of tomorrow’s clash cannot be understated. While Bafana go into the weekend top of Group A — the top two sides will qualify for Afcon — any of the four sides can still book their Afcon tickets. Bafana’s final qualifier is a daunting trip to Uyo where they will meet current African champions Nigeria, and the opportunity to wrap up qualification tomorrow has become a priority.

“This is a must-win. The last two games are very important. It is not only about the three points that we need, there is a lot at stake,” said Mashaba. “We have beaten Sudan in their backyard and I’m sure they want to come and reverse the situation — that makes it difficult for us.”

Free State Stars forward Moeketsi Sekola has been called up to the squad following the withdrawal of May Mahlangu and the injury to Sibusiso Vilakazi.

“We wanted another player who I will not name, but his club confirmed to us that he was injured,” explained Mashaba.

The only other injury concern in the squad is attacking midfielder Thulani Serero, but the Ajax Amsterdam star will be ready for action tomorrow.

“The medical team has given us a clean bill of health,” the coach said.

“He [Serero] has a niggling muscle pain but it is nothing.”

Fixtures:

Tomorrow

SA v Sudan - 3 pm

Congo v Nigeria - 4.30 pm

Wednesday

Nigeria v SA - 7 pm

Sudan v Congo - 7 pm

Group A

P W D L GF GA GD Pts

SA 4 2 2 0 5 0 5 8

Congo 4 2 1 1 5 4 1 7

Nigeria 4 1 1 2 5 5 0 4

Sudan 4 1 0 3 2 8 -6 3.

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