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Former Bafana defender Mark Fish tells Goal.com South Africa that our defenders need to catch up with the pace of the game during the 2013 Afcon

Former Bafana Bafana and Bolton defender Mark Fish shares his views with Goal.com South Africa about the national teams defenders.

Fish believes that our players need to improve their concentration for the first 20 minutes of matches. He also wants players such as captain Bongani Khumalo to show more character and improve communication with players.

“What we do during the first 20 minutes will determine the outcome of the match. Our defenders will have to be very quick and be able to read the game (better). In such tournaments you cannot allow yourselves to be predictable. Therefore the defenders must also adapt as the game changes,” said Fish.

The defender who won 62 caps for Bafana said that ultimately the commitment from the players is what will determine the results, because the coach has done his level best.

“At the end of the day it is all up to the players. They need to give their all. This is a great time for them to rewrite history. Their number one advantage is the fans, that is what we used in 1996 when we won it (Africa Cup of Nations),” said Fish who was also part of the Afcon runners up squad in 1998.

With the high level of speed from the attackers in today's game, maybe it can only be fair that the class of 1996 should not be compared with this 2013 outfit. 

“I don’t want to speak about the developments because a lot has been said about it, but what I can say is that our players need to be brave enough to face the opposition. How we carry the ball and the way our defenders will clear the ball, they must be comfortable with it and know where they are passing the ball.

“The days where defenders would just kick the ball anyhow are over. Defenders are now required to think on their toes and be smart enough to make bold decisions. A single mistake can cost the team and no player wants to be labelled as the cause of the team’s failure, “he said.

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