Zim to offer stern test for Bafana

2010-01-27 00:00

A ZIMBABWEAN team made up of players based in that country and in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League will provide a stern test for Bafana Bafana in tonight’s international friendly at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Bafana’s first appearance at Durban’s World Cup semi-final venue forms part of a locally based squad’s training camp in the city that included Saturday’s 6-2 training match thrashing of Swaziland at Chatsworth Stadium.

While that result was a confidence boost and saw the South Africans playing football more in the mould of coach Carlos Alberto Parreira than the muddled era of predecessor Joel Santana, too much should not be read into the drubbing.

The Swazis were technically and tactically weak and Bafana were allowed acres of space to bury their chances and reverse a goalless streak that has afflicted them in recent months.

A Zimbabwe squad in which coach Sunday Chidzambwa has named seven players based in the PSL will provide far sterner resistance, and an overconfident Bafana could find their newfound self-assurance pricked by their neighbours from north of the Limpopo.

The Kaizer Chiefs trio of central defender Thomas Sweswe, left-back Jimmy Jambo and shrewd striker Knowledge Musona have bolstered a Zimbabwe squad that, like its South African counterparts, is without European-based stars such as Manchester City’s Benjani.

In defensive midfield, the visitors have two quality players to choose from in the form of Chiefs’ stalwart Tinashe Nengomasha and Mamelodi Sundowns’ Esrom Nyandoro. Free State Stars’ Kingston Nkatha could partner Musonda up-front.

Bafana will not have the luxury of suffering the sort of lapses in concentration in defence they at times did against Swaziland, which they were only twice punished for.

A satisfied Parreira said, “I would say we scored nice goals [against Swaziland], with nice combinations and nice finishing. There was a positive side to the game. There were also things that we need to improve on.

“We missed some balls in defence; the ball possession can improve — the two goals that we allowed should not have happened the way they did.

“At a high level, if you make such mistakes you pay a high price. But this is part of the learning process.”

Parreira said he will utilise a starting line-up close to the “A team” he fielded in the first half against Swaziland, with the coach having employed an entirely new “B team” in the second half of the training game.

“We cannot use 22 players against Zimbabwe — we can only use 11 plus six. If there is a change in the starting line-up, it will only be two or three players. Then we will introduce five or six in the second half. But we won’t make many changes — we want the players to enjoy the game.”

This means the line-up is likely to again include a defence of goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and full-backs Siboniso Gaxa and Lucas Thwala. Matthew Booth might find his way into the starting team ahead of Siyabonga Sangweni or Morgan Gould, despite an errant back-pass against Swaziland that led to the second goal scored against Bafana.

In midfield, Teko Modise, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Reneilwe Letsholonyane impressed against Swaziland, but Franklin Cale’s second-half brace must have brought the Sundowns winger into the reckoning, at least from the bench. Matthew Pattison should be given another chance to impress.

Gert Schalkwyk scored two goals as a shadow striker to Katlego Mphela, and the pair will test Zimbabwe’s defence tonight.

“We want the team to enjoy their football and to attack and score. We want the midfielders to join the attack and score too,” Parreira said after the Swaziland game.

“Gert used his two opportunities well and Cale used his shooting power.

“And the important thing is that we created, had good breaks, good combinations and we scored six goals, which is always positive no matter who the opposition.”

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