Cape Town - Bafana Bafana play Burkina Faso in a must-win 2018 World Cup qualifier on Saturday at FNB Stadium, and striker Dino Ndlovu believes the locals will rise to the occasion.
Currently rock bottom in group D with one point after being ordered by football governing body FIFA to replay the match against Senegal (which they won 2-0), Bafana must win their remaining three matches if they are to catch a flight to Moscow.
"It’s always an honour to don the Bafana Bafana jersey. If we don’t believe that we can go to Russia, then it’s useless that we play this game on Saturday. With the players that have been called up, I think we can step up and get the three points in this coming game," said Ndlovu.
Bafana Bafana held Burkina Faso to a 1-1 draw in Ouagadougou on 8 October in the reverse encounter. South Africa scored first in the 80th minute through Dean Furman before Banou Diawara equalised in referee’s optional time.
“I believe so much in God, and God said he will give his toughest task to a strong soldier. If you are a footballer, you are always under pressure because if you are not under pressure then you are in a comfort zone,” he said.
Bafana Bafana have generally done well against Burkina Faso. They have encountered the Stallions eight times, winning four and drawing three with one loss. But pressure will be on the hosts to go for an all-out victory while their visitors, currently top of the group with six points, may well sit back, hoping to protect what they have. It will be a tough ask for Bafana.
“For me to be called up in this situation is an ideal time for me to come back to the national team. If I get a chance, and I believe I will get a chance, we will show everyone on Saturday that we can make the country proud again,” Ndlovu said.
The Azerbaijan based striker last played for Bafana Bafana in November 2015 in the World Cup qualifier against Angola. He was on the bench on that occasion, but he does not seem to be bothered that he has been overlooked so many times for the national team.
“I respect the coach’s statement but at the end of the day we play football. Whether I play in Azerbaijan or in Mozambique, we play football… we are chasing the round thing. Playing Champions League football has helped me a lot and we had a decent conversation with the coach over the phone, and he told me how I will fit in the team. But it’s not just about me, it’s about the whole country and about who will come and support the team as we are in a serious state on the table (group) and we need to overturn that this coming weekend.
“Whether I get a call or not to the national team, I need to perform at club level because I am the one who put food on the table for my family. If I get angry and say I not going to play because I am not getting called up to the national team, then I’m burning bridges for myself. For me I had that hope that the time will come and I think the time is now,” he said.
While the idea of playing this World Cup qualifier at the FNB Stadium was to give as many people as possible an opportunity to see Bafana off, it appears not too many have been enticed. By Tuesday just over 300 were reported to have been sold. If the number does not pick up, Bafana could feel really lonely at the Calabash on Saturday.
“Even if the stadium is not full it doesn’t matter because I know that South African people love Bafana Bafana. Even if they stay at home they will still switch on the television and watch the game… wherever they are I know we will get their support in spirit and hopefully we will get a positive result,” said Ndlovu.
The Qarabag striker said he was not sure whether he would get a run this time around, but said he would grab the opportunity with both hands if given a run.
“It doesn’t matter because normally in our team we play 4-3-3 and I play as a lone striker. In the previous games of Bafana Bafana that I have watched, Tokelo was mainly playing alone. So it’s more similar and I don’t think I will have a problem gelling well with the other players,” he said.
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