Bafana to make SA proud
Siphiwe Tshabalala (Gallo)
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala is confident South Africa will come away with a positive result in Wednesday's Nelson Mandela Challenge match against Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) champions Nigeria.
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"It is going to be a tough match, we know they are a quality side but it is also an opportunity for us to rise to the occasion and make the nation proud," Tshabalala said ahead of the game at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
"This is not just another game; we will be facing the African champions in honour of former South African president Nelson Mandela, so this is a very important match for us."
The hosts will hope to improve their record against the Super Eagles, having only beaten the west African giants once in seven previous outings.
That win came in 2004 - the 10th edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge - courtesy of a narrow 2-1 victory at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Tshabalala added that he was pleased with the current squad, which remains largely intact from the side that represented the country in the AFCON tournament earlier this year.
"The core of the team is here, but we also have new players which shows that our league is doing well to produce such players," Tshabalala explained.
"I believe we will give a good account of ourselves even though we know that Nigeria is a very experienced and tough side. I am confident it will be a good game and we will be on the winning side."
Midfielder Dean Furman echoed Tshabalala's sentiments.
"This is a very important match for us, more so because it is being played on home soil," the Doncaster Rovers playmaker said.
"We really want to win this one, like we do with every game. The good thing is that we have shown over the last few matches that we can mix it up with the best and if it is a physical match, we are ready for it, but at the same time, we play our own normal game."
Meanwhile, coach Gordon Igesund was left fuming ahead of the clash, after key defender Anele Ngcongca failed to report for duty on Tuesday.
The Belgium-based defender was expected to arrive in Durban a day later than the rest of the squad, along with Tokelo Rantie, but was held back by his club, Genk, who claim he is carrying an injury.
But Igesund cried foul, insisting that Genk had "fabricated the story" and confirmed that the matter has been reported to the SA Football Association (SAFA) and they would take it up with world governing body FIFA as the match fell on an international date.
No replacement was called up for Ngcongca.