Mashaba to use All Africa Games as a stepping stone

2011-07-11 12:44

Having qualified for the All Africa Games at the weekend, South African Under-23 coach Shakes Mashaba said his side would use the tournament as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

Despite the 1-0 loss to their Zimbabwean counterparts in Harare yesterday, Baby Bafana qualified for the Games on aggregate after defeating their neighbours 2-0 in the first leg in Daveyton two weeks earlier.

The SA U-23 men’s team will join the national women’s squad at the continental showpiece in Maputo, Mozambique, in September.

“I must admit it’s a very good feeling to qualify for the All Africa Games, which in my view is a prestigious tournament,” Mashaba said after the team returned today.

“I have always said that for us to conquer the world we need to start in our back yard, right here in our region, then we can take it from there, so this is the start we wanted.

“The Mozambique Games will also be a good test for the boys because they will able to play a number of matches in a short period of time.”

The shambles of the Bafana management “forgetting” to register the team for the Games qualifiers is now a fading memory with the young and exciting outfit able to fit in a good preparatory competition ahead of the final round of qualifying later this year for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

While they had hoped to come home with an away victory over Zimbabwe, Mashaba said he was pleased that his back four were able to absorb the pressure from the hosts, despite travelling without regular defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele, who was not released by his club, Moroka Swallows.

“It was also a very good experience for the boys playing away from home,” Mashaba said.

“I am obviously very disappointed that we did not win our match, but I am happy with the overall result.

“I know that everybody would have loved for us to come back home with a win, but let me hasten to add that it was a very tough match and my boys did very well to hold on.

“The defence worked wonders and we were just unfortunate to let that one goal in.”

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