Bafana face surprise package
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana will hope to maintain their status as Group A leaders of the CAF African Nations Championships when they host Mali at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday evening for match-day two.
Kick-off is at 17:00.
The host nation overcame the odds of an unfortunate and rocky prelude to the tournament when they put out a convincing performance in the curtain raiser of the competition to defeat Mozambique 3-1 on Saturday evening.
Bernard Parker’s effort from the penalty spot cancelled out Diogo Alberto’s 11th minute opener before a world-class strike from 30-yards out courtesy of Kekana stole the show in the Mother City.
The Kaizer Chiefs hit-man put Bafana’s result beyond a doubt in the final moments of the game with a drive at the near post which beat Soares Soares at the near post.
The victory can only but bode well for Gordon Igesund’s boys heading into encounter against Mali and they will need all the confidence they can get when they face the side that got the better of the African Cup of Nations winners, Nigeria.
“The first game is always a tough one. There is always a lot of expectation hosting the tournament, but I think the guys coped well with it,” said midfielder Matthew Pattison.
“Mali did look a lot more physical, they run a lot but we can do that. We have the players who can get stuck in when needed and hopefully our quality can shine through like it did in the second half on Saturday.”
Pattison, who came into the camp late after replacing the injured Jabulani Shongwe, believes his team put out a more solidified second half display and that there is room for improvement.
“What can we fix? We spoke about the team shape - we can be better at that,” continued Pattison. “Also, [having] a bit of time and realising the situations we are in… we need to work on that.
“Like we said, it was the first game and I we will look back and fix things.”
Mali will rightly feel equally buoyed by their debut outing in this year’s edition of the competition after their strong and physical display saw them edge out Nigeria 2-1.
Their presence on a physical level on the field is something they will comfortably get the better of their hosts, and they can also take comfort from the fact that they have never lost to Mzansi’s finest in their two previous official international matches.
They knocked Bafana Bafana out of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in the quarterfinals.
A win for either team, who both sit on three points, will undoubtedly put them as the frontrunners to qualify for the final eight of the competition.