Cape Town - Bafana Bafana stand-in coach Owen da Gama is pleased with his charges after they defeated Premier Soccer League side Golden Arrows 1-0 in a very competitive practice match played at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlaza.
The goal that made all the difference was a typical Hlompho Kekana long-range strike, which gave the goalkeeper no chance.
Bafana Bafana used the match to prepare for the international friendly match against Guinea-Bissau on Saturday, March 25 at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Kick off is at 15:00.
Da Gama says they got what they wanted out of the Golden Arrows clash.
“I was very very happy, we got exactly what we wanted out of the players. We encouraged them to engage in a lot of interplay and combinations, we tested a few variations of the combinations and we made sure everybody plays. We gave the newer players a little bit more time to play so that they can intergrate more into the team,” said Da Gama as quoted by the official SAFA website.
“We created a lot of scoring opportunities but we still need to work on the finishing. What was important was that we dominated the entire play and that was pleasing to see. Some of these players are playing for the first time together but they played like they have been together for a long time, their quality just shown through - they understand how we have to play.”
Asked how Golden Arrows helped with the approach to the Guinea-Bissau fixture, he had this to say.
“Guinea-Bissau has got hard-running players, and that’s exactly what Golden Arrows is good at. Arrows also have nice combination plays, but when they get the opoprtunity they run hard at you - and that is what Guinea-Bissau is all about. We are happy that we could react positively to what Arrows threw at us, now we need to take it to another level and work on the final third of our game,” added Da Gama.
Following the exercise, the Bafana Bafana mentor says they are not far off from deciding on the starting line-up for Saturday, but what he saw posed a headache for the final selection.
“We are very close to deciding our starting line-up. The good thing is that the players have raised their hands and it’s going to be a tough decision to make because we have 25 quality players in camp. But we have an idea which way to go because we are not going to totally revamp the team from the Senegal match - we are just going to spice it up a bit. You must remember also that we have two matches to play so we don’t want a strong side for one match and a weak one for the second fixture next week - that’s not going to happen, we will have two strong sides to compete in the two games,” said Da Gama.
Bafana Bafana will have two more training sessions on Thursday and Friday before taking on Guinea-Bissau.