Pitso: Sierra Leone dark horses

2010-09-07 09:07

Johannesburg - Pitso Mosimane has warned Bafana Bafana not to envision their massive battle with Egypt until they have downed Group G's "dark horse" Sierra Leone.

South Africa, who opened their 2012 African Nations Cup qualifying account with a 2-0 victory over Niger, were shocked to learn that the defending champions were held 1-1 in Cairo by the Leone Stars.

The Pharaohs were tipped to rout the West Africans, but failed to force a winning goal past a stubborn visiting defence.

Bafana's coach sent "spies" to the clash in order to report back on both teams, and after gathering his Intel, has warned his men to not fast forward to next year's clash with Egypt, when Sierra Leone are next on the "to-do list" in October.

"My spies told me what I already know because Sierra Leone are now dark horses in our group," he is quoted as saying in the Business Day.

"That game in Freetown can be described as the game of our life. That game is going to be absolutely crucial.

"I need to drive the point home to the boys and make them understand that this game will be very, very crucial to our chances.

"It is my job to make this point very clear to the boys. The fact is Sierra Leone have done their job by going to Cairo and getting a point in such a difficult place.

"Now they fancy their chances and they believe a victory against us in Freetown is going to put them in a strong position. Egypt, on the other hand, will feel that they gave up two points and will try to make up the difference along the way."

Bafana are in a tricky position in Group G. They are the only side to pick up maximum points, but the Leone Stars will be determined to add to their own tally in Freetown. A hostile environment awaits Mosimane's charges next month, while in March, Bafana must prepare for the daunting trip to Cairo.

Egypt have already stated that their progress through to the next stage is non-negotiable after their blip and Pitso wants the World Cup hosts to bring their mental 'A game' during the AFCON qualification phase.

He has also pointed out that "you cannot afford to lose a match at home. We cannot afford to even entertain the possibility of playing a draw, let alone a defeat. That is just unthinkable.

"It is a little bit early for us to talk too much but we have temporary advantage. This position gives us confidence as a team but we know that it is not enough as the road ahead is still very long," Mosimane said on Bafana's top spot in the group.

"This is a chess game now and we need to display mental strength. Everybody in the team needs to be mentally strong because things are about to become very difficult.

"Sierra Leone and Egypt are also making their own plans and they are also working their own permutations about how to get the better of us.

"You need to be very strong mentally because these African Nations Cup qualifiers are not for the faint-hearted."