After Afcon setback, Bafana aim to finish on a high this week

2008-10-08 00:00

PRETORIA — Bafana Bafana will be looking ahead to next June’s Confederations Cup after they face Equatorial Guinea in their final 2010 African Nations Cup Group Four qualifier on Saturday.

With nothing at stake except pride and the group’s wooden spoon, the players are already thinking towards next June when Bafana, world champions Italy and the six continental champions, Spain, Brazil, the United States, New Zealand, Iraq and Egypt will compete in a tournament used by Fifa as a dress rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup finals.

“Sure, it is important to go to Equatorial Guinea and finish with a win,” said Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana number one Itumeleng Khune after yesterday’s first training session at the Pilditch Stadium.

“But the mindset of the players is focused on the Confederations Cup. That is what we are preparing for. The Equatorial Guinea match will help us prepare for that.”

Khune is happy with the way the team is starting to take shape.

“The 3-0 win over Malawi last week by a locally based squad showed we have depth.”

Kagisho Dikgacoi, who starred in that Malawi win, summed up: “That win was great for morale and means everyone must fight for their places.”

The Golden Arrows captain also said he has another extra mission when he turns out against Equatorial Guinea. “I want to perform really well. I need to score another goal and get as many caps as possible — and quickly.” This was a reference to Dikgacoi’s plans to play in the English Premiership.

He recently went on trial to Premiership side Fulham, but was unable to get a work permit due to the fact he had not played enough games at that stage for his country.

While most South Africans want Bafana to start redeeming their tarnished image, Israel-based central defender Bevan Fransman agreed it will be a “train smash” to lose to the minnows of Equatorial Guinea.

“A loss would be a serious setback to our confidence, which is slowly but surely being rebuilt. We have to go all-out and forget we are not going to Angola. We need to end the qualifications with a bang,” said Fransman.

Fransman who recently joined Maccabi Netanya, said he is happy with his move from Moroka Swallows in the off-season. “We have won seven out of seven games and are top of the league. I have started every game and I am really enjoying my soccer in Israel.”

But Fransman knows he faces a tough battle to get a start against Equatorial Guinea. The two central defenders whom Santana has fielded when both are available are Bafana skipper Aaron Mokoena and Spain- based Nasief Morris.

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