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Date: 24 April 2019

  South African - Soccer

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Bafana brace up for Niger challenge

[Posted 04 Sep 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Bafana to face Niger in an AFCON 2012 qualifier tonight


2010 World Cup hosts South Africa have braced themselves up for the challenge posed by Niger in their opeing fixture of their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign at Mbombela Stadium tonight.

Bafana Bafana coach's last international match was a high-profile friendly match against a team South African fans dubbed BaGhana Baghana during the World Cup.

Pitso Mosimane's boys triumphed over the World Cup quarter-finalists 1-0. Bafana dominated the match, forcing Ghana to play second fiddle for more than 80% of the match on 11 August at the Soccer City Stadium, which is now called FNB Stadium again.

Judging by the performance of the team during the Ghana friendly match, and spirit in the camp at the moment, everything points towards a Bafana victory come end of 90 minutes tonight.

Mosimane has changed the playing philosophy in the Bafana team. Without taking away anything from ex-coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, Bafana seemed lost at the World Cup as they battled with a lone striker upfront.

Jingles has re-introduced a concept which South African players are more familiar with, that is playing with two strikers.

Another tactical change which has brought back the Bafana attacking flair, is the switching of Bafana's only world-class player, Everton's Steven Pienaar from a supporting striking position to the right-sided midfield role where he has proven to be more effective at Everton and in the Ghana friendly.

While there are clamours for Pitso to include youngsters in the team, Jingles has demonstrated his shrewdness by keeping the veterans like 106th capped captain Aaron Mokoena and Rubin Khazan of Russia's Macbeth Sibaya. The two are expected to play a major role in the early days of this campaign.

Any knowledgeable and level-headed soccer lover will agree that Jingles knows what he is doing. Making wholesale changes to the team at this stage will be ill-advised. The coach can only introduce youngsters into the team gradually.

And Jingles is not going to risk his job by pleasing fans who may be out of sync with how the game of football plays itself out on the field of play. Mosimane is well aware that combinations in the team take time to form, and the coach does not have the luxury of time to try out new combinations at this stage.

While excitement generated by Bafana's famous win victory over Africa's team of the moment has given rise to talk of a crushing victory over Niger, Pienaar has called for cool heads. 

“International football is tough nowadays … there is no opponent who you can look down at. The Ghana game is behind us and we new start from this game,” warned Pienaar.

The Everton star has urged his team mates to remain patient even during the early stages of the match when Niger are expected to create a wall of defence in their own half.

“We expect them to sit back and absorb the pressure. We need to be patient and not rush or else the supporters will be on our case. We need to work at them and make sure we get an early goal,” Pienaar advised.

Bafana will be hoping for a perfect start tonight, and will pray that Sudan will hold African champions Egypt to a draw in the other match of Group G.

Bafana are aware of the danger posed by so-called minnows in African football. Only in July, little Botswana travelled to Tunisia and shocked the hosts 1-0. The Zebras are currently sitting alofty at the summit of Group K. There are nolonger minnows in African football.


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