Bafana to Graeme Smith: cheers!

2013-01-31 14:47

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Bafana Bafana have sent their best wishes to Proteas captain Graeme Smith who will be celebrating his 100th Test as captain in the first Test against Pakistan tomorrow.

Bafana rolled out a big banner from one of their sponsors Castle imprinted “Cheers to Graeme. Here’s to the next 100”.

Back to the field, they knuckled down to business as they prepare for their quarterfinal clash with Mali on Saturday night. Kickoff is at 8.30pm.

The only surviving member from the 2002 match between the two countries, goalkeeper coach Alex Heredia, said they were ready to avenge that defeat.

Mali beat South Africa 2-0 at the same stage of the tournament in front of their home supporters and Heredia believes they can do the same on Saturday.

“That was a long time ago and we only left with memories of that game. Things have changed and today it is a different situation,” said Heredia.

Heredia was working on set pieces with his goalkeepers in anticipation of dealing with Mali’s aerial threat.

He said number one goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was more than ready to deal with any onslaught from the West Africans.

Khune was blamed for Morocco’s opening goal after he came out of his line late, but Heredia said they were working on rectifying that.

“Set pieces are a big issue for us but it is not always the goalkeeper’s mistakes when goals are scored. Goalkeepers are nothing without a good defence but sometimes credit must go to the opponents for a job well done.

“But we are more than ready to take on Mali as we know what to expect from them,” said Heredia.

The team was also practising penalty shoot-outs, in case the game is decided by spot kicks.

And Heredia has all the confidence that Khune will do well if called upon to do so. He said the Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper has the advantage of quick reaction time and that will be the difference during penalty shoot-outs.

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