No holiday for Bafana in Mauritius
After a rather gentle week building up to their Confederation of African Football African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier against Mauritius today, Bafana Bafana’s only concern is the fitness level of left back Lehlohonolo Nonyane.
The Mpumalanga Black Aces defender was the last to arrive in camp on Wednesday, after regular left fullbacks Thabo Matlaba and Marc van Heerden both suffered Achilles tendon injuries and withdrew.
Van Heerden played in the first leg and Nonyane is seen as his replacement. However, coach Shakes Mashaba said they would try to increase his fitness level when they got to Mauritius.
Bafana were scheduled to have only one training session at the match venue – Stade Anjalay – yesterday. “[Nonyane] is suspect in terms of fitness, but at least we are aware of his condition and know what we need to work on,” said Mashaba ahead of the game, which kicks off at 1pm South Africa time today.
With Bafana taking a 3-0 lead into the return leg, Mashaba said the team would have to guard against complacency. He said the priority would be to consolidate on the three goals they scored at home a fortnight ago. “Our players must not be swallowed by the results of the first leg. I always say that we must not allow yesterday to take most of our energy to venture into tomorrow. We must prepare for tomorrow and forget about what we have achieved, because that is history.”
He said he had warned his players not to underestimate Mauritius based on the first-leg result.
“We don’t have to go there and run like headless chickens; we need to be composed in our marking and not be vulnerable and exposed at the back. We know they will come at us, as they hope to reverse the scoreline, but we are prepared for any onslaught.”
Apart from the missing Van Heerden, Mashaba did not make any changes to the team that did duty in the first leg.
Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune retains the armband and the No 1 spot, with Tshepo Gumede, Kwanda Mngonyama and Wandisile Letlabika completing the back four.
Rising star Gift Motupa, who had a brilliant game two weeks ago, will partner Musa Nyatama in midfield, with clubless Mandla Masango and William Twala being deployed as wingers.
Mashaba also did not break the partnership of his twin strikers Thamsanqa Gabuza and Siphelele Ntshangase, who scored one and two goals in the first leg, respectively.
The winner of this match will play either Swaziland or Angola to qualify for the Chan finals next year.
READY Itumeleng Khune will be hoping to keep another clean sheet
Shakes Mashaba is happy with his team’s preparations ahead of the match