‘Only goals can save us’

2013-01-22 00:00

BAFANA Bafana striker Katlego Mphela says he is fully fit and ready to start against Angola in tomorrow’s Africa Cup of Nations Group A clash at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban.

Mphela was left out of his side’s 0-0 draw in Johannesburg against Cape Verde in Saturday’s tournament opener, fuelling suspicion that he hadn’t fully recovered from the knee injury that had hampered his preparations for the tournament.

But speaking before training in Durban yesterday, the 28-year-old was in high spirits and confirmed that he was fully fit.

“If I get called upon to play against Angola then I am ready,” he said. “My fitness is good and I have played in tournaments like this before. Hopefully I can give the team what it needs, which is to score goals.”

While scoring goals is the obvious problem for Bafana right now, coach Gordon Igesund has made it clear that goals cannot be scored unless chances are created, and he was critical of his midfield in this regard after the Cape Verde match.

But Mphela yesterday expressed confidence in his midfield, saying that there would be an improvement tomorrow. “Yes, in the last game we didn’t create chances, but we did in the two friendlies before that, so I don’t think it is a problem.” he said.

On Saturday Igesund surprised many by playing Bernard Parker just behind Chiefs team-mate Lehlohonolo Majoro, but with goals so desperately needed, Igesund is widely expected to turn to “Killer” Mphela tomorrow.

“The competition among the strikers is very healthy,” added Mphela. “But I am the most experienced striker in the team and I know that I can be the difference.”

Another player who says that he is feeling fitter is Ajax Amsterdam attacking midfielder Thulani Serero. Igesund conceded after Cape Verde that the 22-year-old was nowhere near fit enough to play 90 minutes as he continues to recover from a serious groin injury.

But Serero, who featured for about 35 minutes on Saturday, said he was he feeling stronger every day.

“It is hard to say how many minutes I think I can play now, but I know that I am not 100%. I am getting there,” Serero told The Witness yesterday.

Serero said the squad was under no illusions and expected a tough game against Angola.

“They are a very good team. We watched their first game [0-0 against Morocco] and they were impressive,” he said. “But it is just important for us to go out there tomorrow and get the three points.”

That may be easier said than done, and Serero made it abundantly clear what Bafana needed to do to make victory possible.

“We need to score goals — that is what the people want to see,” he said. “We need to be more patient and keep the ball more and then we will create more chances.”

By yesterday tickets for Moses Mabhida tomorrow were almost sold out.

The Bafana match kicks off at 5 pm, while Morocco and Cape Verde meet at 8 pm in a match that will have a major impact on Bafana’s future in the tournament.

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