Bafana Bafana

Fresh start for Bafana?

2011-11-10 14:35
Moeneeb Josephs (Gallo)

Port Elizabeth - Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs believes the Nelson Mandela Challenge presents the team with an opportunity for a fresh start as they build towards the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

South Africa face the Ivory Coast in the annual friendly international match in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

"The past is the past now, and this an opportunity to start making things right," Josephs said on Thursday.

"Yes, we failed to qualify for next year's Africa Cup of Nations, and we are sorry for that, but these sort of things do happen.

"Have a look at how we have improved in the rankings in the last year.

"We have to look beyond that [AFCON qualifiers], and keep looking at the future.

"Right now, we have some youngsters being blooded for the future, so it's important for South Africans, and more importantly the media, to believe and get behind these boys."

Despite lining up against a star-studded West African outfit, who have a majority of their players campaigning in top European leagues, Josephs said Bafana would look to play their natural offensive-minded football at a sold-out Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

"The coach [Pitso Mosimane] has been working on tactical aspects with us, trying to work out our game plan," he said.

"We have now been busy preparing mentally.

"We want to play good attacking football. That is the brand that we have implemented with the team.

"We are not the biggest of teams physically, and we want to keep the ball on the ground and ensure that we maintain possession."

Josephs has been South Africa's long-time No 2 goalkeeper, as an understudy to Itumeleng Khune, who is not in the squad while he recovers from a viral infection.

The experienced Orlando Pirates shot stopper is likely to start against the Ivorian Elephants -- the top-ranked team in Africa -- ahead of another quality keeper, Wayne Sandilands.

The West African giants are without injured Chelsea star Didier Drogba, but they will pose a formidable threat up front with Salomon Kalou, Seydou Doumbia and Gervinho.

Bafana will aim for resilience in defence, relying on the experience of Josephs and the back four of Tsepo Masilela, Siyabonga Sangweni, Morgan Gould and Anele Ngcongca.

The Spanish-based Masilela, who missed Bafana's previous two matches because of injury, returns to the troubled left-back position where right-footed Siboniso Gaxa had to be played out of position in the goalless draw against Sierra Leone in Nelspruit last month.

"If we don't have the ball, we will have to quickly close them down," Josephs said.

"We will have to be an organised unit to try and stop them, because we know they can look to find a goal from all angles.

"Organisation will be very high on the agenda, and as one of the experienced guys, I will have a role to play if I'm in the team."

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