Bafana-Nige­ria clash will be ‘in­ter­est­ing’

Pretoria News - - SPORT - MATSHELANE MAM­ABOLO matshelane.mam­abolo@inl.co.za

balek­mih­lali@gmail.com

KAIZER CHIEFS tal­is­man Khama Bil­liat is aware of the dan­ger that Chippa United pose for Amakhosi in their PSL clash at the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium to­mor­row.

The match will be the last of Chiefs’ two games played be­hind closed doors at the Dur­ban sta­dium fol­low­ing crowd vi­o­lence in a Ned­bank Cup semi-fi­nal de­feat to Free State Stars last sea­son.

The PSL dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee found Amakhosi guilty and handed them a three-match fan ban, one of which was sus­pended.

Chiefs lost the first match 1-0 to Polok­wane City and Bil­liat lamented play­ing in an empty sta­dium.

“It’s a dif­fi­cult match with­out the sup­port­ers be­cause we have to be men­tally strong,” Bil­liat said. “The coach (Gio­vanni Solinas) has been em­pha­sis­ing that with­out our sup­port­ers we have to pre­pare our­selves. We had to learn with a loss and we don’t want to go through that again. I hope we won’t make the same mis­takes again and we’ll take the game as pro­fes­sion­als.”

With the Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium their sec­ond home af­ter FNB Sta­dium, Chiefs looked in de­spair with­out the back­ing of their fans as they were on the back foot against a con­fi­dent City team who had noth­ing to lose.

Their next op­po­nents Chippa may not have the best fan base in Dur­ban, but they pose a threat as they are hun­gry for points af­ter a string of poor re­sults.

“We lost in Dur­ban when we didn’t have sup­port­ers and we don’t want to go through that again,”Bil­liat said. “We are re­ally look­ing for­ward to the game and we’ll try to be men­tally strong.

“We’ll make sure that we’ll grind for the re­sults to make our sup­port­ers happy be­cause it’s not easy for those in Dur­ban. They want to be there for us.”

Amakhosi needed soli­tary strikes from de­fen­sive play­ers Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Willard Kat­sande to bag suc­ces­sive wins against Su­per­Sport United and Black Leop­ards re­cently.

That is some­thing of a con­cern for a team who have an at­tack con­sist­ing of Bil­liat, Leonardo Cas­tro, Du­misani Zuma, Bernard Parker and Gus­tavo Paez.

But 28-year-old Bil­liat, who al­ready has six goals and four as­sists in only 16 matches this sea­son, be­lieves that who­ever scores is ben­e­fit­ing the club.

“As long as we win, we are happy,” he said. “Kaizer Chiefs is big­ger than the strik­ers. Strik­ers come and go, but the club re­mains. If the set-piece (scored by a de­fender) can make us win the game, then why not?”

Solinas is also not fazed by his strik­ers’ two-game goal­less streak. In fact, he’s tipped one of them to be the top goal scorer at the end of the sea­son.

“Please ask me this ques­tion at the end of the sea­son. I have the best strik­ers in the PSL. Please check how many goals will Bil­liat and Cas­tro will score,’’ Solinas said as he con­cluded the post-match press con­fer­ence.

Mean­while, Mi­nenhle Mkhize re­ports that Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium in Port El­iz­a­beth has been iden­ti­fied as a suit­able venue to stage the Nel­son Man­dela Chal­lenge but the game might be moved to Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium if Safa don’t agree terms with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in the Eastern Cape.

The game is set to be played on 20 Novem­ber. Next Satur­day, Bafana Bafana will lock horns with Nige­ria in a cru­cial 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier.

“The game is sched­uled to be played at Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium in Port El­iz­a­beth. The sta­dium is named af­ter him (Nel­son Man­dela) and it is his year. The prob­lem though is that Safa and Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium are still dead­locked in talks. They are not agree­ing on terms. Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium has opened their arms. They are will­ing to stage the game. You know that you have to pay for the ground, but Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium is of­fer­ing it for free. There are other things which I’m not at lib­erty to men­tion which they are of­fer­ing. It is not yet con­firmed but it looks like Mab­hida will get it if PE doesn’t put more money,” a source said.

The for­mer South African pres­i­dent would have been 100 years this year.

“The op­po­si­tion is not yet fi­nalised. The act­ing CEO (Rus­sell Paul) is talk­ing to Sene­gal and Tunisia. He is cur­rently in Tunisia. But if they don’t agree, he will try other coun­tries. Ev­ery­thing will be fi­nalised when he gets back to the coun­try,” a source added.

The Sta­dium Man­ager at Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium, Vusi Maz­ibuko, con­firmed that they have made it known to Safa that they are avail­able to host the game.

“We are still wait­ing on Safa but I can con­firm that we have ex­pressed our de­sire to host the game,” Maz­ibuko ex­plained.

It is un­der­stood that Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium has a goal of host­ing two Bafana matches, one or two Cup fi­nals ev­ery year.

They have al­ready hosted Bafana against Libya this year and two Cup fi­nals in the form of the Ned­bank Cup and Telkom Knock­out.

Thubanzi Mniki, the com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fi­cer at the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium was not at lib­erty to com­ment about their ne­go­ti­a­tions with Safa. NIGE­RIAN leg­end Jay-Jay Okocha is an­tic­i­pat­ing next week­end’s 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier be­tween his coun­try’s na­tional team and Bafana Bafana to be a humdinger.

“Ev­ery­one knows that there’s al­ways pride at stake when the two coun­tries meet and that al­ways trans­lates into a great game. That’s why I think it will be an in­ter­est­ing en­counter,” Okocha said yes­ter­day.

Okocha is in Jo­han­nes­burg for the week­end on a Bun­desliga/StarSat le­gends tour that will see him en­gage in a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties.

With Nige­ria top of the ta­ble in Group E of the Af­con qual­i­fiers for next year’s tour­na­ment that will be hosted by Cameroon, Okocha be­lieves his coun­try­men have what it takes to seal the deal soon. But he ac­knowl­edges that Bafana will be hard to beat.

“It could be that who­ever wins this match will have one leg in the Africa Na­tions Cup, so that adds to the ex­cite­ment of the match. I can’t wait to watch the game. But it is hard to say who will win be­cause Bafana will be con­fi­dent af­ter win­ning in Nige­ria,” Okocha said.

He is happy with the strides be­ing made by his coun­try­men though, and fore­sees them grow­ing from strength to strength.

“Of course our team is fairly young. But we can now see some level of con­sis­tency. These play­ers have grown af­ter the World Cup (in Rus­sia) and the ex­pe­ri­ence they got there is very good. Also there is a great tran­si­tion in that the se­nior play­ers are pass­ing on their ex­pe­ri­ence to the younger ones,” Okocha said.

“We are mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion and we stand a good chance of hav­ing a great na­tional team again.”

Whether he is right will be­come ev­i­dent at FNB Sta­dium next Satur­day when the Su­per Ea­gles take on a Bafana out­fit that has blown hot and cold in the qual­i­fiers.

In­stead of build­ing on their first com­pet­i­tive win against Nige­ria in the open­ing qual­i­fier, Bafana were held at home by Libya, ham­mered the Sey­chelles at the FNB only to go and draw with the part-timers from the In­dian Ocean Is­land. Which of Stu­art Bax­ter’s Bafana teams pitches up for the match next Satur­day is any­body’s guess, though you can bet Okocha and his coun­try­men will be hop­ing it is the one that played Libya at home.

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