'Bafana must stay cool'

2011-05-31 19:20

Rustenburg - Bafana Bafana defender Bevan Fransman believes calm heads will be needed when South Africa tackle reigning Africa Cup of Nations Champions Egypt in an Afcon qualifier in Cairo on Sunday.

Kick off is at 8.30pm at the Cairo Military Academy Stadium.

The Israel-based defender returned to the team for the first time since March last year when he played against Namibia in an international friendly match.

"It's been quite a while since I have been here and it feels so good to be back," said Fransman, whose team Hapoel Tel Aviv missed out on the league title, coming second to Maccabi Haifa, but won the State Cup.

"I never gave up hope and I have grown in confidence. Just like any other player in the squad, I stand an equal chance of playing on Sunday, but it will be up to the coach to choose who he uses and for the rest of us to support whoever plays on the day.

"I have found there is some healthy competition for places in the national team which is good as it keeps all of us on our toes. There is no animosity as we are working towards a common goal. There is a great team spirit here," he said.

The towering defender, who played in Cairo in 2006 when he came on for Macbeth Sibaya in the 1-0 loss to Egypt in a friendly, said he was aware of the dangers posed by the hosts.

"They are bound to attack us, no doubt, but that could also leave them open at the back. But then again, we will need calm heads as it will be one of our toughest 90 minutes as the national team.

"We know what's at stake for us, and for them it is even more. We need victory in this game as much as they do but for different reasons.

"They have done very well against us in the past, before our last match with them, but history counts for nothing. We all have to fight hard for positive results," added Fransman.

Fransman's return coincided with that of fellow defender Tsepo Masilela who also plays his club football in Israel, with title holders Maccabi Haifa.

Masilela, who had been out of the national team due to injury and last played against Niger in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in September 2010, is one of the most capped players with 36 appearances for his South Africa.

"It feels good to be a winner and I know every player wants to win," said the left-back Masilela.

"We have a couple of players in the national team who have won titles this season, and I just hope we take that winning spirit with us to the game against Egypt.

"Fortunately, we are not nervous but confident because we have prepared very well for this match. It's also good to be back in the squad after so many months on the sidelines due to injury," he said.

Bafana Bafana will round off their preparations in Phokeng/Rustenburg on Wednesday morning before returning to Johannesburg in the afternoon en route to Cairo. They leave for Egypt on Thursday,