Fit-again Majoro likely to play against Mali

2013-02-01 00:00

BAFANA Bafana striker Lehlohonolo Majoro says he is surprised at how quickly he has recovered from the deep cut to his shin that kept him out of Sunday’s 2-2 Afcon draw with Morocco, and that he is hopeful of being back to his best in time for tomorrow night’s quarter-final against Mali at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Majoro is the only one of Bafana’s four strikers at the tournament to have found the back of the net so far — a superb individual goal in the 2-0 win over Angola last Wednesday.

With striker Katlego Mphela clearly not at his best in the tournament so far, and with the common knowledge that Bafana will have to use their speed in an effort to counter the physicality of the Malians, the industrious Majoro could be a logical choice for coach Gordon Igesund when he plots his starting lineup.

“There are still some tests that I need to undergo before Saturday,” Majoro said at the team’s Durban training ground yesterday. “But I feel good and am really excited to be back. I know that I will have to fight for my position.”

Majoro also came to the defence of his striking partners who have had less luck in front of goal.

“It is always good for a striker to score, it brings us a lot of confidence,” he said.

“But it is not all about the strikers scoring. In the goals that we have scored in the tournament so far the strikers have been good on the ball and made good runs to set up the goals.”

While Bafana appear set to go on the attack tomorrow with an entire nation willing them on for the win, the reality of knockout football is that matches are often settled from the penalty spot.

Goalkeeper coach Alex Heredia, the last remaining member from the squad that made the quarter-finals of the 2002 tournament in Mali, said yesterday the side had devoted a significant amount of time to spot kicks this week.

“Saving a penalty is a matter of feeling and I am sure that if the time comes then we will be ready,” he said of in-form goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

The only area where Khune has looked vulnerable in the tournament so far is when he was at fault for Morocco’s first goal on Sunday after failing to collect the ball from a corner that he really should have dealt with.

But Heredia said that working on set pieces had also formed a vital part of this week’s training.

“It is a big issue for us and we are getting better all the time,” he said. “All of the goalkeepers have been working very hard.”

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