Goal South Africa chief editor Ignat Manjoo discusses the psychological and tactical awareness for Bafana to progress past CAR and EthiopiaThe South African national team arrived in Yaounde, Cameroon last night, and will face the Central African Republic in a vital Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifier on Saturday 8 June.
Even though the Bafana camp have played down the advantage of facing CAR on neutral territory, due to the war back in Central Africa, the Cameroon venue will help South Africa's confidence going into the game. In recent years we are known as poor travelers around Africa which is why we have failed to qualify for World Cups and Africa Nations Cups.
Of course we were fortunate to host the last two events, but to excel away in Africa you need to be fearless. Coach Gordon Igesund bemoaned that we were nervous when we drew in the 2013 Afcon opener against Cape Verde in January. Away in Africa you need to be mentally prepared from the first whistle. You can't worry about receiving heavy tackles, or complain that the referee is not protecting you. This comes with the territory in Africa. We can't expect them to roll out the red carpet as we do in South Africa with 5-star treatment.
Orlando Pirates survival past the hazardrous early rounds of the Caf Champions League will stand us in good stead. The whole squad needs to take a leaf from the Bucs heroic triumph against recent African champions TP Mazembe of DR Congo. Even though everything seemed to conspire against them, the South African club dug in and were inspired by goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwe's double penalty save.
Meyiwe will sit on the bench against CAR but the whole squad must pull together with a united team spirited as his Kaizer Chiefs rival Itumeleng Khune no doubt has the inspirational qualities to similarly inspire Bafana Bafana as captain. With a depleted defence through multiple injuries, Khune will have to be at his best to keep Bafana afloat.
We need to grow a winning mentality. These days to qualify for major events it's no longer about drawing away and just winning your home games, while hoping others might slip up. In smaller groups of four teams, there's no margin to get beat and no time to slowly build your way back. You got to keep collecting three points away and at home. To overturn Ethiopia at the top, to keep our Brazil 2014 dreams alive we must beat both CAR and Ethiopia to have our destiny in our own hands.
Igesund's attack minded setup is perfect for achieving our ambition. We can't just keep it tight at the back, hoping to fluke an away goal on the counter to steal three points. Igesund wants to take the game to the opposition. The mission is three points and we are going out there to score goals. The coach has already solved our lack of confidence in front of goal, and we are slowly progressing all over the pitch.
I was at the Cape Town Stadium when Bafana beat CAR 2-0 at home. We could have scored more, but initially the Central African's were tough to break down. We need to be psychologically and physically strong to deal with them in Cameroon. Our greatest concern are the injuries to the backline with Siyabonga Sangweni, Morgon Gould and Tsepo Masilela all out through injury.
Our replacements might not have played together, other than last weekends easy Lesotho win, but in Ricardo Nunes, Tebogo Langerman, Tefu Mashamaite and Thabo Nthethe we have the players to do the job. Anele Ngcongca is our only regular, but the new-look defence can aid us in pulling together when the chips are down. We can strengthen our team spirit and take aim at Central Africa. Let us see what happens in Cameroon before talking about Ethiopia. It's always one match a time. No doubt Igesund has a specific strategy for each team, so these are going to be interesting World Cup qualifiers.
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