Ramahlwe Mphahlele: Bafana know the stakes for 2018 World Cup qualifier with Cape Verde
Posted: 1 September 2017 Time: 16:00
Bafana Bafana defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele says the team have made their intentions clear ahead of tonight's 2018 World Cup qualifier with Cape Verde.
Kick-off is at 20h30 at Estadio Nacional, with Bafana hosting the return match on Tuesday at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Stuart Baxter's team share the Group D summit with Burkina Faso with four points from two games - a point ahead of Senegal and four more than Cape Verde.
Bafana earned a 1-1 draw against the Stallions in Ouagadougou in October 2016 and followed it up with a 2-1 win over Senegal in Polokwane in November in their previous WC qualifiers.
"We are going to Cape Verde to win the game, we have made our intentions clear," said Mphahlele, who is in the starting XI for the first contest in Praia.
"We want to go there and get a good result, come back home after and get a good result so we stay in control of our group. We don't wanna be relying on anyone to do us favours and stuff. We are in control and we wanna stay in control until the end of this campaign."
The Kaizer Chiefs right-back is drawing confidence from Bafana's historic 2-0 defeat of Nigeria in a 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier in June. It was Baxter's first match on his return to the hotseat and also the visitors' first competitive win over the Super Eagles.
"We had a good run against Nigeria and we had a good first-half run against Zambia. We are looking to build on those results. The coach said that no one gave us a chance against Nigeria but we had a plan in house of how we wanna destroy Nigeria. It worked, it came out perfectly. We prepare the same for each and every opponent, the mentality must be the same. We don't choose. Yes, the public can choose and say you're expected to beat them but if you don't beat them then you are in trouble. So we must beat then then you can talk after."
'Rama' is well aware of the stakes following the 2010 World Cup hosts' failure to earn a spot at Brazil 2014.
"As players we know what's at stake, we know it's been long since we've qualified for a World Cup. We really, really want this badly. I think we got the personnel to go to Cape Verde and win the game and come back to South Africa and win the game. So we are looking forward to the two games."
Bafana are without defender Rivaldo Coetzee (foot injury) and goalkeepers Itumeleng Khune (chest infection) and Darren Keet (knee problem), as well as playmaker Thulani Serero (hamstring).
Ronwen Williams has been handed the number one jersey for this evening's tie, while Serero could feature in the return duel.
Bafana, ranked 66th in the world to Cape Verde's 114th, are unbeaten in three meetings with the islanders. Baxter oversaw 2-1 victories home and away in WC qualifiers in his first stint in charge of the national team. The countries played to a goalless draw in their last clash in the opening match of the 2013 AFCON in South Africa.