Mphela: Bafana to take risks
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana are prepared to take risks when they face Sierra Leone, the team's leading goal-scorer Katlego Mphela said on Wednesday.
Bafana Bafana face the Leone stars in Freetown on Sunday in a 2012 African Nations Cup qualifier. Kick-off is at 18:30 South African time.
"This trip to Freetown is a big test of our mental strength as we have played most of our matches at home this year, but the coach [Pitso Mosimane] has told us we are not going there to sit back and defend. He has told us we are going to Freetown for three points," said Mphela.
He will be the main target of the home defence, but is not concerned.
The Mamelodi Sundowns striker is set to team up again with Dutch-based Bernard Parker in a two-pronged attack.
"That is a bit of a risk, but one we are more than prepared to take.
"The coach has made it clear he is going to attack Sierra Leone. My job is to score goals and we have been working hard on our finishing this week at training."
Mphela said the players were going into the match with their confidence high after wins for the national side in its last four matches. These include a World Cup 2-1 victory over former world champions France.
Mphela is Bafana’s key, with 18 goals under his belt from 37 appearances for his country including a goal in the 2-0 win over Niger at Nelspruit in the opening Group G fixture played last month.
African champions and Group G favourites Egypt were stunned by Sierra Leone 1-1 in Cairo in their opening group match and are expected to make amends when they travel to Niger this weekend looking for their first win of the qualifying tournament.
"We expect Egypt to beat Niger, so we have to keep up the pressure by beating Sierra Leone and staying on top of the group," said Mphela.
He was not worried about the number of chances he, Parker and others missed in a one-sided clash against Niger.
"At least we created chances against Niger. Now we need to convert them against Sierra Leone. We have been working hard at training this week and are determined to get it right on Sunday."
Mphela was also not too concerned by the absence of Bafana’s vice captain and midfield kingpin Steven Pienaar because of a groin strain he recently picked up playing in the English Premiership for Everton.
"We have other top midfielders such as Teko [Modise] and Shaba [Siphiwe Tshabalala] to score and set up goals," he said.
"We have depth and we are confident we can do the business and come home with three points. It is not impossible."
Mphela said Bafana was up there with the top African sides such as Egypt, Tunisia and Cameroon.
"We showed at the World Cup we are improving and as good as the big guns in Africa, but we need to start winning away from home," he said.