Bafana wary of wounded Nigeria ahead of Afcon qualifier

2014-09-09 00:00

BAFANA Bafana go into their second 2015 African Cup of Nations clash tomorrow fully aware that they are up against a wounded animal.

Nigeria, the 2013 Afcon champions and Bafana’s opposition at Cape Town Stadium tomorrow night, were stunned in their opening qualifier when they went down 3-2 to Congo at home over the weekend. That result leaves the champions in a dangerous position in Group A and defeat tonight would leave coach Steve Keshi a little concerned with only the group winners and runners-up guaranteed to take their place amongst the continent’s elite in Morocco next year.

Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba reintroduced himself to international football with an impressive 3-0 win over Sudan on Friday night — a match that saw a youthful Bafana fluent in front of goal through strikes from substitute Sibusiso Vilakazi (2) and AmaZulu’s Bongani Ndulula.

But there is no time to get carried away, and Mashaba has seen enough to know that this is a dangerous time to be facing the Super Eagles.

“Against Congo, Nigeria lost and will come as wounded tigers, we will need players who will show mental strength,” Mashaba told yesterday.

“The match won’t be tactical, Nigeria will come out fighting but I have players who can deal with that.”

Mashaba is unlikely to tinker too much with the side that did the business against Sudan, though he does have an injury concern with Andile Jali picking up a “slight knock” in that match.

The availability of Jali, who did not train yesterday, would only be known today and Vila­kazi would be the most likely replacement should the former Orlando Pirates playmaker not recover in time.

This would leave Dean Furman, impressive once more against Sudan, as the destroyer in the middle of the park — a position he appears more than comfortable in.

“Andile had a slight knock against Sudan and was jogging all by himself today,” Mashaba said of the KV Oostende midfielder yesterday.

“He is currently being assessed by the medical team. I didn’t want to get involved with that.

“But it’s nothing serious, if there is anything we will let you know tomorrow [today].”

With most of the side doing just about enough to warrant another selection tomorrow night, it is perhaps only Ajax Cape Town’s Keegan Dolly who should be concerned about keeping his place after what was a largely anonymous debut against Sudan.

Kick-off is at 8 pm.

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