Time to shut out the noise

2014-09-09 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba says he remains hopeful that his team can put aside the off-field issues surrounding the Nigerian national team when the two sides clash in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier in Cape Town tomorrow.

“It will depend on us individually. The banning of Nigeria and all that, it’s not a technical thing, it’s an administrative thing,” Mashaba said at Athlone Stadium yesterday, following the team’s second training session since arriving in the city on Saturday.

“We can only hope that our boys don’t buy into that. They must just shut off from all those noises, prepare for the game and look forward.”

Nigeria were facing a ban from international participation by Fifa after a controversy surrounding Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) factional leader Chris Giwa.

He was ordered to withdraw his claim to the presidency of Nigerian football by 9 am yesterday.

But yesterday afternoon, news broke that Nigeria had avoided a ban and that the match would go ahead as planned.

Fifa issued an ultimatum last week, reiterating its rejection of Giwa’s claim to the post and it repeatedly threatened the national team with sanctions.

Giwa, meanwhile, had insisted that he won the August 26 elections and was expected to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

According to Fifa, any ban would only be lifted when the NFF board — as it stood on August 25 — with Aminu Maigari as president, was allowed back into its offices to work.

Mashaba, meanwhile, said he and his team are focusing on the mental side of things ahead of tomorrow’s match.

He called for a clinical performance, following Bafana’s dominant 3-0 victory over Sudan last Friday.

“I’ve got confidence in the kind of players that we’ve assembled here and I’m confident that we’ll get something out of the game.”

Second-half replacement Sibusiso Vilakazi, who came on eight minutes into the second period in Khartoum, scored a superb brace to send South Africa on their way.

“In modern football, there’s what we call a technical weapon — good players who start from the bench,” he said.

“All three subs who came on [against Sudan] paid dividends. It was like they wanted to show the coach that they don’t belong on the bench.”

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