Senzo Meyiwa most deserving player to lead Bafana – Shakes Mashaba

2014-09-05 09:35

Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has dismissed all the hazards that have been pointed out to him ahead of tonight’s Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier against Sudan.

Mashaba has had a confident answer for everything that has been thrown at him, from Itumeleng Khune’s injury to the sometimes unbearable heat and the bumpy pitch.

His answer to Khune’s absence was to award Senzo Meyiwa the captain’s armband. The Orlando Pirates number one has been living under Khune’s shadow for a while but Mashaba said he is the most deserving player to lead the South African troops.

“He deserves it,” said Mashaba. “He is the most qualified among the players we have here. The boy is also familiar with the circumstances under which the game will be played, having travelled through the continent with Pirates during last year’s CAF Champions League where they only lost in the final.”

Mashaba mentioned Meyiwa’s heroics in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Egypt during that campaign.

Mashaba was unfazed about the El Merreikh pitch, where tonight’s match will be played. It proved to be quite uneven when Bafana trained yesterday evening.

“Yeah there are some bumpy spots here and there but they are manageable,” he said.

“We did a few exercises to familiarise ourselves with the pitch and I am happy with the results.”

Another hurdle that people keep referring to is the heat, which can be unbearable at times, reaching highs of 40 degrees.

“I’m least bothered about that,” said Mashaba nonchalantly. “In fact our team doctor has pointed out that it is not actually very hot here but humid. We will overcome this by having the players drink a lot of liquids to avoid dehydration.”

Mashaba said he drew solace from the fact that Sudan decided to play the match in the evening.

“That to me says they are as aware of the weather conditions as we are. We will be playing on the same pitch under the same conditions so there will be no excuse for anyone.”

He reiterated that he had drummed it into his charges that they were only here for one thing: Victory and the three points that come with it.

“We need a positive start and then everything will fall into place,” he said.

Meyiwa said he felt honoured by the gesture and promised not to disappoint. He also mentioned the experience he had picked up during last year’s Champions League campaign and said that would put him in good stead.

Sudan are ranked 115 to Bafana’s 69. The team will travel straight from Sudan to Cape Town via Johannesburg for their second qualifier against reigning African champions, Nigeria, who are in action tomorrow against Congo Brazzaville.

» S’Busiso Mseleku is in Sudan courtesy of the South African Football Association

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