Bafana Bafana

Khumalo eager to impress

2011-08-10 12:10
Bongani Khumalo (Gallo)
Johannesburg - Bafana centre-back Bongani Khumalo says he is in the best shape of his career and determined to beat Burkina Faso at Ellis Park.

The two sides clash in a friendly on Wednesday night. The tie is part of Bafana's preparation for their final African Cup of Nations qualifiers, but is also an opportunity to beat a team higher up on the FIFA rankings. Faso are fourth in Africa, while South Africa are seventh.

Coach Pitso Mosimane has been forced into a couple of changes for the clash with the absence of skipper Steven Pienaar, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Anele Ngcongca and Kagisho Dikgacoi.

Oupa Manyisa has earned his first call-up to the national team while Daylon Claasen comes in and Khumalo returns after an injury sidelined him for the Egypt clash in June.

"The coach will be happy to know that there are players always eager to fill the missing gaps," Khumalo told Times Live.

"I was unfortunate to miss out on the Egypt match because of injury, but I am in the best shape of my career."

The Tottenham defender, who has been sent out on loan to Reading, believes the Burkina Faso game is crucial if South Africa are aiming to climb the rankings.

"The rankings can be seen as some sort of prize or trophy for the team. A motive for us to win, especially since we are playing against a physical team like Burkina Faso," he added.

"We are looking forward to playing teams that are ranked above us. That is how most European teams improve and we know what is expected of us."

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