Jabulani Shongwe rallies Bafana Bafana troops ahead of second leg CHAN qualifier against Zambia
Posted: 15 August 2017 Time: 10:43
Bafana Bafana midfielder Jabulani Shongwe admits an uphill battle awaits in the visit to Zambia, but he believes all is not lost despite the squad being hit with further withdrawals.
Bafana travel to Ndola to face Zambia in their second-leg 2018 CHAN qualifier, following their 2-2 draw in the first leg played in East London last Saturday.
Shongwe conceded the team threw a good result away after leading 2-0 and allowing Chipolopolo to come back with a late equaliser.
“We were really disappointed, because we knew we were supposed to win that match, but unfortunately it didn’t happen, so we have to keep our heads up. Now we have no other option but to win the second leg, and we will do our best to get that win,” Shongwe told Safa.net.
“The two away goals are a serious setback because we know that had it ended 2-0, it was going to be easier when we get to Zambia, but knowing they have two away goals means we have to work harder to get a victory. But we still have a big chance of winning the match – they scored two in our backyard and I see no reason why we can’t score two on the other side too."
Shongwe also emphasised the importance of qualifying for next year's tournament in Kenya, as he believes it could offer the exposure and platform many of the current group need to warrant a place in the World Cup and Afcon tournaments.
“This match is very important because it is the last hurdle before qualification to the tournament so that is why we have to give it our all – we have come too far to let it slip," he said.
"Qualifying for the tournament in Kenya will also be good exposure for all of us, so a win will do the entire team a world of good because we might stand a good chance of being part of the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers.”
Seven players have since been withdrawn from the squad, including Tercious Malepe, who will be returning to Orlando Pirates after picking up a red card in the first leg tie, while Asavela Mbekile has suffered a family bereavement.
Gift Motupa (Baroka), Menzi Masuku (Chippa united), Keagan Poole, Tshepo Mabua (both Stellenbosch FC) and Shane Thompson (Mthatha Bucks) have all been recalled by their respective clubs ahead of the start of the domestic leagues this weekend.
“It’s a huge loss for us as a team, even though we understand why they had to leave. Now we will have new players and this means we might have to start afresh with our tactics to accommodate the new arrivals. But I have confidence that the guys that are here will help the players coming in to adjust quickly because we have a job to do,” said Shongwe.
“It’s going to be tough but we have to soldier on. We will do the best we can. All is not lost, we still have a good chance and I think we will do well in Zambia, I have a strong feeling we will qualify."