Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Lebohang Mokoena has appealed to South Africans not to put the team under pressure, but support the players in their match against Sierra Leone next week.
Bafana host Sierra Leone in a crucial 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier on Saturday at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Kick-off is at 17h00.
Mokoena last played for Bafana Bafana since the friendly against Namibia in Durban last year.
“The pressure is slowly mounting, not only on the players but on the entire nation as well. As players we know what we have to do, and the coach knows what he wants from us.
We are expecting all the players to be in camp by Monday, so the preparations can get into full swing.
We would like the nation not to put pressure on the team so we can be able to focus on the job at hand for the sake of the country.
We are ready to tackle Sierra Leone, so we must pull together with the country and we are confident we will do well on Saturday. I hope I also get a chance to play and I will do my best for the country,” said Mokoena.
The midfielder has been undergoing light training due to tight hamstrings, alongside Siyabonga Sangweni (athlete’s foot), Lehlohonolo Majoro (groin) and Bernard Parker (knee).
All four are expected to join the rest of their team-mates at training on Monday.
England-based Bongani Khumalo and Holland-based Thulani Serero were the first Bafana Bafana overseas-based players to arrive in the country.
Already in camp there are 17 players, all local-based.
With the players given the afternoon off on Sunday by head coach Pitso Mosimane after the morning training session, Khumalo and Serero, who landed in South Africa on Sunday morning, will only report for national team duty in the evening.
The quartet of Anele Ngcongca, Siboniso Gaxa, Daylon Claasen - all from Belgium and Bradley Grobler, who plays in Turkey, is expected on Monday and Mosimane will have a full complement of players to work with.
Meanwhile, Orlando Pirates defender Happy Jele says Bafana Bafana should not focus much on the other 2012 AFCON Group G match between Egypt and Niger.
“As much as we need Egypt to beat Niger, we have our own job to do. We must just not lose focus and worry about the results of the other match, but all our focus should be in our match.
Let’s work on beating Sierra Leone and we will worry about the other results later.
We understand the importance of our match and the coach has been motivating us daily, and we know what is expected of us,” said Jele.