Bafana head for Niamey
Johannesburg - South Africa’s mission to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals continues this weekend when they face Niger at the Stade General Seyni Kountche, Niamey, in their penultimate Group G match.
The encounter takes place on Sunday afternoon, with kick-off at 16:30 South African time.
Bafana Bafana are on the verge of securing a berth in the continental finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea early next year, but this could prove to be their toughest match of the qualifying tournament.
Having secured away draws in Freetown and Cairo in qualifying so far, Pitso Mosimane’s men head to Niamey knowing that they will face fierce heat and a hostile crowd factors which helped ‘Mena’ record home wins over Egypt and Sierra Leone.
The six points garnered from those two fixtures sees the Nigeriens placed second in the group standings, just two points adrift of Bafana Bafana, and they will certainly be eyeing a victory which would send them top and put them within touching distance of a first ever qualification for the Nations Cup finals.
Mosimane will be without four key players due to injury – regular captain Steven Pienaar, Reneilwe Letsholonyane and English-based duo Kagisho Dikgacoi and Davide Somma – but has still been able to select an experienced squad that features just one uncapped player in Mamelodi Sundowns’ Musa Nyatama.
“We need all the experience we can get in this match,” said the Bafana Bafana coach upon naming his squad last week.
“It is just unfortunate that we won’t have the four injured players. But we are a national team we have to keep going, and I know we have players capable of raising their hands when needed.
“I also believe we have enough ammunition to tackle this assignment, and as soldiers on a mission we have to bring back positive results. We did so in trying conditions in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and I am confident we can do the same in Niamey as this is a replica match of Freetown.”
The national team are in camp at the Royal Marang Sports Complex in Rustenburg and will fly to Niamey by chartered plane on Friday, 2 September.