Cape Town - Fiery midfielder Matthew Pattison believes his upfront approach to the game adds another dimension to Bafana Bafana’s arsenal.
Coach Gordon Igesund is spoilt for choice in the middle of the field, he said ahead of South Africa’s second fixture of the African Nations Championship against Mali on Wednesday.
Pattison, who won the last of his two international caps in February 2011, was drafted into Igesund’s 23-man squad following the withdrawal of Jabulani Shongwe through injury early last week.
“It’s always nice to get a call-up and get recognised for some good work. Hopefully I can play a few games and keep ticking over, during this January period, which will be good,” Pattison said
“You always need to win your battles [on the field] before your quality can shine through and when you don’t do those things, you’ll come unstuck.
“We’ve got to compete and I like that physical side of the game, but at the same time, I like to pass the ball as well, so hopefully I’ll be a good fit.”
The 27-year-old was born in Johannesburg but immigrated to England at a young age, where he represented Premier League outfit Norwich City. He returned to his native South Africa and is currently plying his trade at Bidvest Wits.
“There’s a new coach at Bafana and there are a lot of new faces here, which is good. There’s a bit of variety and a change and maybe it was needed."
Pattison became Igesund’s third forced change of the tournament, after the Kaizer Chiefs duo of Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Tsepo Masilela had already been ruled out with injury.
Having watched from the sidelines for much of Bafana’s opening 3-1 win over Mozambique over the weekend, Pattison believed the host nation had a lot of work to do before Mali pay them a visit at the Cape Town Stadium, where the South African team witnessed Nigeria’s shock defeat to the Malians in the other game in group A.
“We can be more disciplined with our team shape, and we can keep the ball better. We can be a bit more patient at times and read the game situations better. It was an ‘okay’ performance. We can do a lot better but, at the end of the day, we got a result.
“We need to do a lot more running off the ball as well. Moving on in the tournament, we probably have to be a bit better because I think we’ll face stronger opposition on Wednesday night.
“But more importantly, let’s hope that we can get to the knockout stages of the tournament and go on and win it.”
Bafana are top of group A after the opening round, with Mali level on three points but trailing on goal difference.
Mozambique and Nigeria will battle it out for their first points of the tournament in the second game on Wednesday, with Nigeria hoping to reclaim their status as tournament favourites.