ODG almost settled on starting XI


The senior national team defeated Premier Soccer League side Golden Arrows 1-0 in a competitive practice match played at King Zwelithini Stadium on Wednesday morning, with a typical Hlompho Kekana long-range strike the difference between the two sides.

And Da Gama says he was well-pleased with what he saw from his men.

“I was very, very happy, we got exactly what we wanted out of the players,” he said. “We encouraged them to engage in a lot of interplay and combinations, we tested a few variations of the combinations and we made sure everybody plays. We gave the newer players a little bit more time to play so that they can integrate more into the team.

“We created a lot of scoring opportunities, but we still need to work on the finishing. What was important was that we dominated the entire play and that was pleasing to see. Some of these players are playing for the first time together, but they played like they have been together for a long time, their quality just shone through - they understand how we have to play.”

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Da Gama feels Arrows provided apt opposition ahead of this weekend’s encounter against Guinea-Bissau.

“Guinea-Bissau has got hard-running players, and that’s exactly what Golden Arrows is good at,” he said. “Arrows also have nice combination plays, but when they get the opportunity they run hard at you – and that is what Guinea-Bissau is all about. We are happy that we could react positively to what Arrows threw at us, now we need to take it to another level and work on the final third of our game.”

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Following the exercise, the Bafana Bafana mentor says they are not far off from deciding on the starting line-up for Saturday, but what he saw posed a headache for the final selection.

“We are very close to deciding our starting line-up,” he said. “The good thing is that the players have raised their hands and it’s going to be a tough decision to make because we have 25 quality players in camp. But we have an idea which way to go because we are not going to totally revamp the team from the Senegal match – we are just going to spice it up a bit.

“You must remember also that we have two matches to play so we don’t want a strong side for one match and a weak one for the second fixture next week - that’s not going to happen, we will have two strong sides to compete in the two games.”

Bafana Bafana will have two more training sessions on Thursday and Friday before taking on Guinea-Bissau at Moses Mabhida Stadium at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.

South Africa will then travel to East London on Sunday, 26 March to face Angola on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at Buffalo City Stadium.