Speed key for Bafana

2011-10-04 20:19

Rustenburg - Bafana Bafana striker Katlego Mphela feels the team's pace will be their trump card against the physical Sierra Leone outfit, for their crucial 2012 Group G Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, on Saturday.

"They are a physical side, and do have some good players who are playing their club football abroad," said Mphela.

"But some of their players are slow, so we need make sure that we put the ball on the ground and play with speed."

Bafana have to beat the West Africans in the final qualifying round to stand a chance of advancing to next year's tournament set for Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

At the same time South Africa would hope that bottom-placed Egypt beat or draws with the group leaders, Niger, in a simultaneous fixture in Cairo.

Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane already indicated that he would employ an offensive strategy.

Mphela, with a tally of 21 goals after 42 caps, will be key upfront, possibly with Ajax Amsterdam prodigy Thulani Serero as his shadow striker.

The South Africans are second on the table with eight points, equal with the third-placed Leone Stars, and a point shy of Niger who have amassed an impressive record at home but are not the best travellers.

Bafana lost 2-1 away to Niger last month in a match where South Africa sorely missed Mphela, the country's third all-time leading goal scorer, having injured his knee in the week leading up to the fixture.

Mphela still travelled with the party and thought the team should not have lost in Niamey.

"I don't think we should have lost to Niger, and now the pressure is on us to win the game, the only situation we can control," Mphela said.

"But that goes with playing for your country, you will always have pressure to perform, but playing at home, I believe that we can do it."

The loss saw Bafana replaced at the top of the group standings for the first time since the qualifiers started a year ago.

The pressure is on Bafana to avoid a successive Nations Cup qualifying failure having missed out on Angola 2010.

Not qualifying will mark a huge dent to the team's significant improvements since staging last year's World Cup, after a decade of lacklustre performances and a drop in the world rankings.

"I want to go to the Nations Cup, also the team is hungry so we will go out aiming to win and then see what happens (in Cairo)," said Mphela.

Bafana have a full compliment of players at their training camp at the luxurious Royal Marang Hotel with Belgium-based defender Anele Ngconga the last of the 23 players to arrive on Monday evening.

They will conclude their training in Rustenburg on Wednesday before departing for Nelspruit on Thursday morning.