Bafana Bafana

Bafana renew Senegal rivalry in rematch

2017-11-10 08:03
Itumeleng Khune.(Gallo Images)

Cape Town - South Africa and Senegal will renew their 2018 Soccer World Cup qualifying rivalry with a clash at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Friday evening, in what is a re-match of last year's showdown at the same venue.

Kick-off is at 7:30pm.

Bafana Bafana beat the Lions of Teranga 2-1 in the Limpopo province 12 months ago, only for the fixture to be scrapped following damning match manipulation evidence against referee Joseph Lamptey.

As a result, Fifa ordered for the game to be replayed with the Group D match the penultimate game for both teams before the scheduled reverse fixture in Dakar next Tuesday.

Stuart Baxter's troops currently occupy bottom spot in the group despite a 3-1 win over Burkina Faso last time out. Successive 2-1 defeats to Cape Verde having left South Africa in dire straights.

Senegal top the standings with eight points from four matches and could seal their place at next year's showpiece with victory this weekend. Bafana Bafana need to beat their West African rivals home and away to book a return to the worlds stage.

Despite the odds stacked against him and his team-mates, Thulani Hlatshwayo is confident South Africa can do the job.

The Bidvest Wits defender used the 2-0 win over Nigeria in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations encounter as an example of what Bafana Bafana can achieve as a team.

"I personally believe that we can do it [against Senegal] and as players‚ we know how important this game is for us‚" Hlatshwayo said in build-up to the clash.

"I give you an example: we played Nigeria and they had all their big names‚ but we stuck to our game plan and beat them away from home.

"We prepared well and we managed to get a positive result.

Hlatshwayo continued: "With the Senegal game coming up‚ as long as we stick to our game plan to make sure we execute everything well‚ we have a chance."

Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter echoed Hlatshwayo's thoughts and highlighted that South Africa can't afford to obsess on the damage Senegal can potentially do to them...

"Our game is going to be based on the fact that we want to win the game and not based on being scared of what they can do to us," Baxter added.

Liverpool star Sadio Mane is set to feature for the visitors, having recovered from an injury sustained in a victory over Cape Verde last month.

As for the hosts, Baxter is currently sweating on the fitness of No 1 goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune after he picked up a facial injury in Kaizer Chiefs' 1-0 win over Maritzburg United last weekend.

Furthermore, midfield duo Hlompho Kekana and Thulani Serero will be unavailable for selection with the latter having failed to honour his national team call-up.

Senegal have only ever qualified for one World Cup: the 2002 showpiece in South Korea/Japan. South Africa featured at the 1998, 2002 and 2010 World Cups, bowing out at the group stages on each occasion.

The reverse fixture at the Stade Léopold Sédar Senghor is set to take place on Tuesday 14 November.

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