2012 AFCON Qualifying Preview: Sierra Leone - South Africa

This is a Group G epic encounter in which both teams need nothing less than a win to better their qualifying chances.

Kick-off: Sunday, October 10, 2010. 18:30 GMT.

National Stadium, Freetown

Keeping The Momentum

After making a great start to their 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with a 2-0 win over Niger, South Africa will on Sunday enter a lions den in Freetown, knowing that anything other than a victory against a team that’s ranked 132 in the world will be a disappointment.

Now ranked 58th in the world and 10th in Africa, Bafana Bafana were beaten 1-0 in their last visit to Sierra Leone, but the team is different now and the 2010 World Cup hosts have a new coach in Pitso Mosimane, who is yet to lose a game since taking charge of the team.

Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who has not conceded a goal in his last two appearances for Bafana will surely be looking to make it a hat-trick of clean sheets, which could turn out to be key should it come down to goal difference to decide who progresses.

“We have to make sure we do not concede a goal in this match. We have to go there and keep a clean sheet. It does not matter that we played at home in our last two matches, because home or away we have a good record and we need to build from that,” the shot stopper told the media at a press conference.

The conditions that Mosimane’s troops might face in Sierra Leone could well be the deciding factor of the match as Bafana struggled to string passes together in their last visit to Sierra Leone, but Khune says they just have to focus on their game and nothing else.

“We have no control over the conditions, we just have to go there and play. We know we have to win the match and we have the players who can do the job,” the Bafana keeper said.

Home Advantage Is Key

Having already made two appearances in the Africa Cup of Nations back in 1994 and 1996, Sierra Leone are hungry and eager to compete in the 2012 finals. They proved their undoubted desire by playing to a 1-1 draw against the defending champions Egypt in Cairo during the last round of qualifiers.

After years of internal unrest and a civil war that couldn’t help but bring football largely to a halt, Sierra Leone coach Christian Cole believes that the current Leone Stars team can rise above their past and erase bitter memories to qualify for the 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

Cole’s ambition is beyond just bringing football glory to Sierra Leone, he is determined to add a new chapter for the country that has for many years been associated with negative news and has already made a huge statement with a draw against seven time African champions Egypt. South African should surely brace themselves for a tough game.

“We defeated them in Freetown in the last qualifiers, and this is a feat I am determined to repeat come October tenth.” Cole told Fifa.com.

 TEAM NEWS

South Africa

Bafana Bafana’s preparations received a major blow ahead of this game after they lost deputy captain Steven Pienaar because of an injury while playing for Everton in England. This could well be the chance for the off form Teko Modise to relaunch his Bafana career, however he will have to battle it out with Reneilwe Letsolonyane and Surprise Moriri for the start.

It is all systems go with no reports of any further injuries and captain Aaron Mokoena has already been cleared by the medical team of a minor injury. The red hot Katlego Mphela is expected to lead the attack with Bernard Parker after Mosimane said he will not be making unnecessary changes.

Squad: Itumeleng Khune, Moeneeb Josephs,Dareen Keet, Siboniso Gaxa, Morgan Gould, Tshepo Masilela, Aaron Mokoena, Anele Ngcongca, Siyabonga Sangweni, Bongani Khumalo, Innocent Mdledle, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Daine Klate, Teko Modise, Thanduyise Khuboni, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Surprise Moriri, MacBeth Sibaya, Andile Jali,Katlego Mphela, Bernard Parker, Sthembiso Ngcobo

Sierra Leone

Coach Christian Cole’s preparations also had a share of disappointments after Aston Villa’s Nigel Reo-Coker turned down a request to play for Sierra Leone. The midfielder qualifies for the African nation through his father and spent a number of years living in the country as a child. 

Sierra Leone football authorities handed him an invite to play for the country in their African Cup of Nations qualifier game against South Africa, but his agent Tony Finnigan insisted that the midfielder is keen on fighting for a place in the English national team.

Also out of this game is the captain and all-time leading scorer Mohamed Kallon, the former Inter Milan striker who has netted 19 goals in 28 games. missed the Egypt match due to injury. According to reports coach Cole decided to exclude him saying that the player did not make contact about his recovery, however Kallon has denied the coach’s statements.

Mustapha Bangura, who scored against Egypt has promised to score against South Africa again and striker Mohamed Poborsky Bangura will be part of the team that will be captained byIbrahim Obreh Kargbo.

Squad: Christian Caulker, John Trye, Ibrahim Koroma, Gibrilla Woobay, Umaru Bangura, Ahmed Deen, Alpha Lansana,Pa Salieu Sesay,Rodney Strasser, Ibrahim Kargbo, Mustapha Bangura, Samuel Barlay, Sheriff Suma, Alfread Sankoh, Alfred Sankoh, David Simbo, Mohamed Pobosky Bangura, Sulamina Fullah Sesay, Ibrahim Tetteh Bangura,  Benjamin Dondem Sesay

PREDICTION

This is going to be a tough game with South Africa on form and Sierra Leone playing at home under their own conditions, which will no doubt be a blow for Bafana’s short passing game.

South Africa 1-1 Sierra Leone

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