Bafana upbeat ahead of Afcon clash with Sudan

2014-09-04 16:59

Khartoum, Sudan - Bafana Bafana players are in high spirits ahead of tomorrow night’s Africa Cup of Nations encounter against Sudan.

This emerged in interviews with goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, striker Mandla Masango, and midfielders Keagan Dolly and Dean Furman.

The quartet was full of praises for new coach Shakes Mashaba and all vowed to play for a good result if given the opportunity.

Meyiwa said he sees this tournament as a stepping stone towards his dream of playing overseas.

“If the coach gives me the opportunity tomorrow I will grab it with both hands,” said the Orlando Pirates shot-stopper.

“My dream has always been to play overseas and qualifying for the finals in Morocco next year will put us on a stage teeming with international football scouts.”

Furman is one of the senior players in the team and there has been speculation that Mashaba will appoint him to lead the team on the field as skipper.

“It’s good to be back under a new setup and a new manager. He has been very direct but allows players the freedom to express themselves,” said Furman.

He added that Afcon was an important tournament and the players were taking it very seriously.

“We were quite disappointed to not qualify for the World Cup and at being knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Afcon tournament we hosted,” he said. “This is our opportunity to make amends.”

An exuberant Masango, who has been scoring goals for his club Kaizer Chiefs as if they are going out of fashion, said his call-up did not give him a sense of déjà vu but “it is destiny”.

“I have been working hard since joining Chiefs and this is a culmination of all that hard work I have put in,” said the baby-faced marksman.

“Coach Mashaba is a winner and he expects us to go out there tomorrow and get the result.”

Another spring chicken, Dolly of Ajax Cape Town, said his call-up had come as a fulfilment of his childhood dream.

“This call-up came at the right time. There were times last season when I thought I was going to be called up given the way I was playing but it did not happen and I guess the time was not right,” said Dolly.

The player said he was hopeful that he would be picked up for tomorrow’s match because he fitted into the system Mashaba wanted.

“Every coach has a different approach to the game. At Ajax we play a 4-5-1 system while in the national team the approach is a 4-4-2 and I think I fit as I am a quick wing player.”

Meyiwa is a favourite to start in the absence of number one, Itumeleng Khune, who is out with an injury. His competition will come from Darren Keet and the under-20 national team and SuperSport United goalkeeper Dumisani Msibi.

The players will have their first training session this evening. They did not train yesterday because they arrived to temperatures of about 40 degrees Celsius after a seven-and-a-half hour flight from Johannesburg.

They only had a pool session “for good blood circulation”.

The match kicks off at 9pm South African time.

» S’busiso Mseleku is in Sudan courtesy of Safa

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