Bafana Bafana

Bafana captain relishes leadership role

Thulani Hlatshwayo (Gallo Images)
Thulani Hlatshwayo (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Newly appointed Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo says he is relishing the prospect of wearing the armband for the senior national side.

Talking at a press conference held in Johannesburg, the sturdy Wits defender said what makes him excited about the responsibility is the fact that he had received unequivocal support from all of his team-mates.

"If you are a leader and you get the support of your troops, half your battle is won," he was quoted as saying by the official SAFA website.

"But on a more serious note, it is nice to wear a captain’s armband; although I have done this before, I think this time we are entering a new era."

Hlatshwayo describes the promotion "like a baptism of fire" ahead of Bafana Bafana's crucial Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Nigeria.

"We have played Nigeria before and we came close to beating them twice in our last two meetings and I think they are there for the taking this time around," said Hlatshwayo.

"It’s somehow a familiar environment because I was then involved in those last two encounters and we should come back with a positive result.

"But Nigeria is a strong side, we need to respect them and show real character.

"Nigeria are a proud and arrogant team but I still believe we have now overcome that psychological barrier of not having beaten them in a competitive match; yet we could have done so in the past two games,” reflected Hlatshwayo ahead of the Group E clash.

"Tyson" believes that Nigeria will be out for revenge after South Africa denied them a place at the 2015 AFCON edition.

"It’s going to be a grudge game this one," Hlatshwayo said.

"We denied them a place to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and they will be out for revenge and that might work exactly to our advantage."

Meanwhile, the skipper revealed that the team has responded well to new head coach Stuart Baxter, adding that the one week training period was enough for national team players.

The whole team trained on Tuesday ahead of their flight to Nigeria on Wednesday.

Saturday's game is scheduled for 18:00 (SA time).

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