Bafana braced for battle
Durban - Bafana Bafana have arrived in Durban on Monday ahead of their must-win World Cup qualifier against Botswana this week, with coach Gordon Igesund admitting they had little choice but to go all out for the three points.
GALLERY: Bafana train for Botswana
Thirteen players were already in camp, while the balance of the 23-man squad, for the Group A encounter at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday, were expected over the next 24 hours.
“This is the first time since I’ve been in charge of Bafana Bafana -- and still holding thumbs between now and the game -- that I’ve had no injuries,” Igesund said.
“Everyone seems to have pulled through nicely and I think it’s the first game where I haven’t had to change three or four players at the last minute. So I’m very happy about that but there are six days to go, ahead of a very important game for the country."
Dutch-based duo Thulani Serero and Kamohelo Mokotjo as well as Anele Ngcongca from Belgian club Genk, would arrive in Johannesburg later on Monday and link up with Tokelo Rantie and Siyanda Xulu in Durban on Tuesday morning.
The five players from Orlando Pirates in the squad -- Senzo Meyiwa, Thabo Matlaba, Oupa Manyisa, Andile Jali and Kermit Erasmus -- were due to complete the full list later Tuesday after returning from Egypt where they were involved in CAF Champions League action against Zamalek on Sunday.
South Africa were lying second in their group, two points behind leaders Ethiopia, but with a superior goal difference.
They must win the match and hope the east Africans either draw or lose against the Central African Republic in their game which kicks off simultaneously in Brazzaville, Congo.
“I am not going to be concerning myself with what’s going on in the other match,” Igesund said.
“All I know is that we need to win and we’ll be going all out to do that. I am not going to entertain any other thoughts."
If Ethiopia win, though, Bafana would miss out on the final round of qualifying for the global showpiece in Brazil next year.
“I will be absolutely gutted if we win the game and don’t qualify,” Igesund said.
“As the coach, I don’t think I could have done much more than playing four qualifying matches and winning three of them and not make it.
"If you win three out of four games, you’ve got to go to the World Cup.”
The match represents a second chance for the national side after they expected to be eliminated from qualifying following a 2-1 loss in Addis Ababa in June.
However, Ethiopia were docked three points for fielding an ineligible player against Botswana earlier in the qualifying competition.