Mashaba’s two-pronged mis­sion

CityPress - - Sport - DANIEL MOTHOWA­GAE dmoth­owa­gae@city­press.co.za This af­ter­noon, Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba will be ne­go­ti­at­ing an awk­ward meet­ing of two jobs.

To­day, he guides the SA Un­der-20 (Ama­jita) side against Cameroon in Polok­wane in the fi­nal hur­dle to qual­ify for next year’s African Youth Cham­pi­onships.

On Fri­day, he will take charge of Bafana Bafana, who will play Su­dan in their first step to qual­ify for next year’s Africa Cup of Na­tions in Morocco.

“We have done well so far and the first 45 min­utes will be cru­cial,” said Mashaba. He ends his role as the Un­der-20 head coach this af­ter­noon. “Cameroon is a very good side in terms of their com­bi­na­tion play in the mid­dle and they are also ag­gres­sive. We have worked on set pieces against us for us to counter those sit­u­a­tions.”

Mashaba will leave Polok­wane im­me­di­ately af­ter the game to join Bafana as they re­port for camp later to­day.

Tied at 1-1 from the first leg, Ama­jita need a goal­less draw or a win to qual­ify for the fi­nal tour­na­ment in Sene­gal in March where the semi­fi­nal­ists will au­to­mat­i­cally earn spots at next year’s Fifa Un­der-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

As Mashaba will be guid­ing Ama­jita in Polok­wane, his Bafana as­sis­tant, Owen da Gama, will be spy­ing on Su­dan 1 000km away in Lusaka, Zam­bia.

The Fal­cons of Je­di­ane, as Su­dan is known, will meet Zam­bia in a warm-up game this af­ter­noon, four days be­fore their meet­ing with Bafana.

Mashaba con­ceded that he knew lit­tle about Su­dan but re­fused to give away much on how his tech­ni­cal staff was gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion about Bafana’s less-fan­cied op­po­nents.

“We don’t know much about them but we’ve been do­ing our home­work, check­ing where their play­ers come from and how they play. We need to do some of the things se­cretly so we can’t re­veal ev­ery­thing at this stage.”

Mashaba has called up 34 play­ers – with five from his cur­rent Un­der-20 team – but only 25 will be on the char­tered flight to Su­dan that leaves Joburg on Wed­nes­day and re­turns a day af­ter the game.

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACKPAGEPIX

DUAL ROLE

Shakes Mashaba is in charge of the SA Un­der-20 and Bafana

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