Having already qualified as hosts of the 2010 soccer showpiece, Brazilian coach Joel Santana, his technical crew and the squad will be more focused on winning a place among the 16 finalists for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Angola.
Last night’s international friendly against Swaziland, which ended 1-0 in favour of South Africa (thanks to a goal by Katleko Mashego), was by all accounts, unimpressive. However, it was just a practice match in which Santana, who was seeing his charges in a match situation for the first time, used two different sides and two different formations.
Objectively, the match was a useful way of building cohesion and spirit of togetherness in the team. The players have to get used to the new coach and the other way around.
This is borne out in a Sapa report in which former Bafana coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, who on the bench with the Swaziland side for the first time, said: “In the first half they (SA) looked tense but in the second half they were different and more adventurous.
“There are talented players in this squad but it’s not about the individuals and what they can do, but more about the team and how they play together.
“They should have shown more grit. They did not do enough in the final third to get on the scoresheet. The team in the second half was more innovative and it led to their goal.”
The former Bafana Bafana coach was also reluctant to pass an opinion on who should start for Bafana in Nigeria.
“There were players from both teams that I think could make the first 11 and so it’s going to be a hard choice for the coach," he said.
“Again I’ll say, it’s what they can do as a team and not the individuals that matter. The players have to take responsibility in Nigeria because this is going to be a tough game. The coach can only do so much; the rest is up to them.”
Following striker Benni McCarthy’s withdrawal from the Abuja-bound team, Santana will no doubt be worried about his mounting casualty list.
Steven Pienaar joined the doubtful list, along with Orlando Pirates’ Teko Modise and Mamelodi Sundowns Lerato Chabangu, when he hobbled off the pitch and was replaced by Macbeth Sibaya.
Bafana media officer Sifiso Cele told KickOff.com that Pienaar was still complaining about pains in his thigh when the team arrived back at the hotel last night after the match against Sihlangu Semnikati.
“The medical team will make assessment on his and Modise’s injury today but Chabangu's chances of leaving with the team are very slim.”
Meanwhile Super Eagles coach, Shuiabu Amodu has expressed satisfaction with the performance of his players following a 1-1 draw with Austria in a friendly international on Tuesday in Graz, Austria.
“They showed so much zeal, commitment and they expressed themselves well in the match. It is better to draw a game than to lose and they will now go into the match against South Africa with better spirit and intensity,” Amodu said.
Amodu is likely to be without the services of Newcastle United attacker, Obafemi Martins and Watford’s big defender Danny Shittu.
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