Bafana-Nigeria clash will be ‘interesting’
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.