Bafana’s hopes high on eve of qualifier

2011-06-04 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Bafana Bafana play Egypt in a crucial African Cup of Nation’s qualifier tomorrow and defender Anele Ngcongca has come out confident, suggesting that the Pharaohs are weak in defence.

“Looking back at the game we played against them at Ellis Park [on March 26], we picked up some of their weak points,” said the 23-year-old.

“They’re too slow at the back and I think it’s one of our strongest points and we’re definitely capable of doing the job up front.”

The South African outfit have the chance to eliminate the hosts if they beat them in their own back yard.

Even if Bafana manage a draw it could still see Egypt miss out on qualifying for next year’s finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea if Niger defeat Sierra Leone in their match today in Freetown.

“We’re professional footballers; we want to always win every game, so we are going there to win,” said Ngcongca.

“We’re not going to go there and defend and let them come at us.

“We are confident, and the spirit in the team is high. The main thing is that we get points from the game, so we will go all out.”

Ngcongca won the Belgian Jupiler League championship with his side KRC Genk and has now shifted his focus to the national team.

“On my side I have put the league aside to join the guys in the camp and I’m now focused on the game on Sunday.

“I’m sharing some of the experience I gained in Belgium, but the main thing is that the spirit in the team is high.”

With the likely absence of captain Steven Pienaar in the midfield, after he picked up a knee injury in training on Thursday, Bafana will have to rely on other experienced players to do the job.

Pienaar limped off at the squad’s final training session after a collision with defender Happy Jele. The midfielder was assessed at the team’s hotel and will be further assessed during the team’s stay in Cairo.

“Players in the midfield will be crucial for us in this game,” stressed Ngcongca.

“We’ve got Shabba [Simphiwe Tshabalala] and Andile Jali who can give those killer passes and I think they will play a big role in this game, so we just have to be patient,” he said.

Tlou Segolela, who came on as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Egypt in March, should make his first appearance in the starting line-up with no other obvious replacement for Pienaar.

The softly-spoken winger has just come off a great season winning a domestic treble with Pirates.

“Winning the league title has motivated me even more and I want to continue the good results,” said Segolela.

Egypt, who are two places above Bafana in the official Fifa world rankings at 36th, have the edge over the South Africans with five victories in nine meetings since 1995.

“We are not focusing on their history. They are human and make mistakes, so I think we can unlock their defence and win the game,” said Segolela.

The match kicks off at 8.30 pm tomorrow at the Military Stadium in Cairo.



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