Cape Town - Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba says he remains hopeful his team can put aside off-field issues surrounding the Nigerian national team when the two sides clash in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier in Cape Town on Wednesday.
“It will depend on us individually. The banning of Nigeria and all that, it’s not a technical thing, it’s an administrative thing,” Mashaba said at Athlone Stadium on Monday following the team’s second training session since arriving in the city on Saturday.
“We can only hope that our boys don’t buy into that. They must just shut off from all those noises, prepare for the game and look forward.”
Nigeria were facing a ban from international participation by FIFA after a controversy surrounding Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) factional leader Chris Giwa. He was ordered to withdraw his claim to the presidency of Nigerian football by 09:00 on Monday.
Should FIFA rule that Giwa had not followed their precise instructions, Nigeria could be banned from competing in the 2015 AFCON qualifiers, meaning Wednesday’s fixture could be called off and South Africa awarded a walk-over victory.
FIFA issued an ultimatum last week, reiterating their rejection of Giwa’s claim to the post and had repeatedly threatened the national team with sanctions.
Giwa, meanwhile, had insisted he won the August 26 elections and was expected to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
According to FIFA, any ban would only be lifted when the NFF board - as it stood on August 25 - with Aminu Maigari as president, was allowed back into their offices to work.
Mashaba, meanwhile, said he and his team were focusing on the mental side of things ahead of Wednesday's match. He called for a clinical performance, following Bafana's dominant 3-0 victory over Sudan last Friday.
“It won’t be a technical match, they’re going to be fighting as well,” Mashaba said.
“I’ve got confidence with the kind of players that we’ve assembled here and I’m confident that we’ll get something out of the game.”
Second half replacement Sibusiso Vilakazi, who came on eight minutes into the second period in Khartoum, scored a superb brace to send South Africa on their way. Mashaba hinted he was resisting the temptation to include Vilakazi in his starting line-up as a result of the Wits midfielder’s heroics.
“In modern football, there’s what we call a technical weapon - good players start from the bench,” he said.
“All three subs who came on paid dividends. It was like they wanted to show the coach that they don’t belong to the bench.”
Meanwhile, Mashaba also confirmed Andile Jali was nursing a knock to his ankle. The midfielder took part in very little of Monday’s training.
Bafana played a friendly against local league side Santos on Sunday in which Jali did not take part as medical staff preferred to keep the fiery playmaker out of harm’s way.
The Nigerian team, in the mean time, had landed in Cape Town on Monday morning and were expected to take part in a light training session at Athlone Stadium later in the day.