Striker Parker the key

2013-09-06 00:00

TOMORROW’S 2014 World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Botswana at Moses Mabhida Stadium is not all about the hosts.

While Bafana Bafana need to win and hope that Ethiopia draw or lose to the Central African Republic to top Group A in the African Zone, Botswana will finish top if they manage to beat Bafana and Ethiopia lose.

There are many possible outcomes, but the only certainty is that both Bafana and Botswana need to win tomorrow to stand any chance of making the trip to Brazil next year.

It all points towards an exciting game, with Bafana coach Gordon Igesund making it abundantly clear all week that his side will launch an all-out attack tomorrow.

Finishing off chances was the order of the day at yesterday morning’s People’s Park training session, and one man that Bafana will be looking to for goals is striker Bernard Parker.

The Kaizer Chiefs man is one goal away from equalling Siyabonga Nomvethe as the fifth highest goal scorer in Bafana history, but in June’s qualifier in Ethiopia he put the ball into the wrong net to see his side downed 2-1.

That moment could possibly be singled out as the moment that Bafana lost their ticket to Brazil, but Parker has recovered from the incident and is now more focused than ever to get into the headlines for all of the right reasons.

“The vibe amongst the players is really good and everybody is just focused on winning this game,” Parker said before training yesterday. “Obviously, we need results to go our way in the other game, but hopefully by God’s grace we will go through.”

Parker added that the time spent with Igesund this week had been beneficial, and that the coach had done well to get all of the squad on the same page.

“He [Igesund] has spoken a lot this week about our finishing and our decision making in the final third,” said Parker. “We need to be more concentrated in getting the ball into the net and not rush our actions; that is what we have been working on.”

Set pieces had also formed a large part of the week’s training, according to Parker, who acknowledged that such an emphasis on creating and scoring goals in training had elevated the pressure on the side’s attacking players.

“There is definitely more pressure on the attackers now,” he said. “We have been working on lots of different formations and combinations, and it is up to us to get it right on the day.”

But the terrifying truth for Bafana remains, and that is that tomorrow’s clash will be insignificant if Ethiopia defeat CAR.

“The chances are not in our favour and we are a little bit worried about it,” said Parker. “But we are trying to stay positive and we have shown that we want to do well in this upcoming game, and then hopefully things will go our way.”

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