Pressure on Bafana?
Johannesburg - Sierra Leone's national soccer coach Lars-Olof Mattsson gave his team a 50-50 chance of beating Bafana Bafana in their final Group G 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Nelspruit on Saturday.
Like South Africa, the Leone Stars stand a chance of qualifying for next year's continental showpiece in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
"I think that we have 50-50 chance. We don't feel any pressure because the home team will have all the pressure," said Mattsson, on the team's arrival at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday.
The team has responded well to Mattsson's tactics since he took over in March. In his first match as their coach, Sierra Leone lost 3-1 away to Niger, but then beat Niger and Egypt 1-0 and 2-1, respectively.
"There is a positive atmosphere among the people back home. They are happy that we are in a situation where we have come to play a decisive game that could see us qualify," he said.
"This is a street-smart team and has earned two straight wins in our last games, something that we haven't seen in three years."
Mattsson said he watched the two teams' 0-0 first round tie in Freetown last year and was aware of Bafana's recent injury troubles, which saw the experienced trio of Steven Pienaar, Kagisho Dikgacoi and Tsepo Masilela missing out.
The 120-capped Kewullay Conteh will marshal the defence while Rodney Strasser, Mohamed Bangura and Teteh Bangura will be key in the team's quest for goals.
"I have seen DVDs of Bafana from the Freetown game, where Sierra Leone were better. They also have had troubles with injuries," said Mattsson.
"Some of the players they have from the list I do recognise, but most are unknown to me."
While both Bafana and Sierra Leone's qualifying depended largely on the result of the match between log-leading Niger and Egypt in Cairo, Mattsson felt Egypt would prevail.
There is a strong possibility that either Bafana or Leone Stars could win the group to claim automatic qualification on the final day of the qualifiers.
"Niger will definitely drop points in Cairo, I just don't see them winning," Mattsson said.
Sierra Leone will bank on the team's top striker Mohamed Bangura, who was snapped up by Scottish giants Celtic after South Africa's premier goal scorer Katlego Mphela failed to impress in the trials.
The 22-year-old Bangura, however, said he was unfamiliar with the Bafana players and felt confident his team could upset the South Africans.
"I only know Aaron Mokoena (former captain) and (Bongani) Khumalo in the team and don't know the rest," said Bangura.
"But I think they are good side, disciplined and compact, but feel that we were unlucky not to beat them in Freetown.
"We just have to get the ball because I know it's a tough one in Cairo too.
"Because Niger are not good away and where we hope Egypt will capitalise, because they won't want to finish with just the two points they have now."