Baby Bafana are in search of big­ger things

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

MAR­RAKECH Morocco: Olympic qual­i­fi­ca­tion will be only the first step of the goal set by the SA Un­der-23 foot­ball team, de­fender Thu­lani Hlatshwayo said yes­ter­day.

Baby Bafana face Egypt in a crunch African U-23 Cham­pi­onship match here tonight.

And while their Olympic dream is on the line, they are in the hunt for the gold medal of the in­au­gu­ral con­ti­nen­tal tour­na­ment.

“I don’t want to go back to South Africa on Sun­day – I’ve planned a longer stay here,” Hlatshwayo said.

“I feel like this is the game that will prob­a­bly de­fine our lives and our foot­ball ca­reers be­cause we want to go to the Olympics.

“As a team we re­ally want to them­selves against the Egyp­tians, and coach Shakes Mashaba lam­basted his team for their poor de­fence in the dy­ing stages.

Hlatshwayo, how­ever, in­sisted they would not make the same er­rors again.

“As a team it hurts when we know we made the same mis­takes two games in a row.”

“It was al­most as if we were de­lib­er­ately avoid­ing in­struc­tions, but it was an ex­pe­ri­ence and we can only learn from it.

“We are con­fi­dent it won’t hap­pen again be­cause we can’t af­ford to re­peat these mis­takes.

“We have to play to our strengths against Egypt and win at all costs.”

Key de­fender Eric Mathoho re­turns from a knee in­jury and cen­tral mid­fielder Thami Sang­weni is back from sus­pen­sion to strengthen the side.

The Egyp­tians need only a draw to progress to the play­offs. – Sapa

Thu­lani Hlatshwayo… great ex­pec­ta­tions.

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