By FOCUS REPORTER
Bafana Bafana was greeted by a crowd of about two-thousand (2000) spectators at the Phillipi Stadium in Cape Town when they arrived for their first training session. The crowd enjoyed every moment of the more-than-hour long workout, clapping and blowing vuvuzelas every time their favourite player touched the ball. Bafana Bafana takes on the national team of the United States of America in the 16th edition of the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge match. The clash will take place at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday, November 17, with a 9.30pm kick off time.
All but one player was missing from training, Israel-based Bevan Fransman who is expected to arrive on Tuesday, November 16. The squad assembled in Johannesburg on Sunday, November 14 before flying out to the Mother City. Steven Pienaar, Tsepo Masilela and Davide Somma were the last overseas contingent to arrive in camp.
“I have asked out video analyst to produce a short DVD of our last three matches to show to some of the players who haven’t been with the squad at all or haven’t been here in a long time. Because this a short camp I want all the players to familiarise themselves with our style of play, and since we have one and half a day of training its important to use all avenues available while you have players in camp. We won’t focus on the physical aspect of the game because most of the players were playing this weekend, so we need to concentrate on the technical and tactical aspects of the match. As for Somma, I don’t want to rush him, let’s give him some time and just use this match as an introduction for him to the national team,” said Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane.
Bafana Bafana have now played four matches without a loss – three under Mosimane – Ghana, Niger and Sierra Leone. The coach is aware that even though the Americans have left some of their best players behind, it still won’t be an easy match.
“This is a big match against the USA, and knowing that South Africans don’t accept defeat easily, even in a friendly match, makes matters a bit difficult. We have made several changes to the team but the fans will still want positive results and see good football, but it’s the nature of the game so we have to do our best to deliver. The team is ranked 25th in the world so they are not a walkover and we have to be at our best to overcome them,” said Mosimane.
His sentiments were echoed by midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala, who has been appointed vice-captain for this match. Steven Pienaar will be the captain in the absence of regular skipper Aaron Mokoena who has been rested.
“For the players every match is difficult, we go there with one thing in mind and that is to win. We have done well in our last four matches so we intend keeping up with the momentum. The match is played in Cape Town, and having not been here in such a long time, it would be great to return with a good win. But we are not going to take the USA lightly, we saw them during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup – so we know what they are capable of. We have played them twice and lost on both occasions so its time to turn the tables on them,” said Tshabalala.
Earlier the team were officially handed over their new bus by Mercedes Benz at the Century Plaza in Cape Town. The players were taken through the dealership to view all the models on show.