Bafana Bafana head coach Shakes Mashaba has declared himself happy with the team’s preparations for the 30th edition of the African Nations Cup, which starts in Equatorial Guinea on Saturday.
The South African team will take on top-ranked Algeria on Monday at the Estadio do Mongomo in the first Group C match. Senegal and Ghana are the other teams in the “Group of Death” group.
But the national team is boasting a 12-match winning streak, with their latest 3-0 win over Mali on Wednesday a great confidence booster. They held Cameroon to a 1-1 draw in a warm-up match in Libreville on 10 January.
“I think we are [ready] and looking forward to the start of the tournament,” Mashaba told Safa.net. “We are happy with the preparations, especially in matches against Cameroon and Mali. We now know what we are going to face in Equatorial Guinea and, yes, it is going to be tougher than this.
“But I would like to say to our boys – job well done. Mali had almost all their players from abroad, which is clear indication that it was not an easy game.”
Mashaba, who has recorded 10 straight wins with the team, says the team is “comfortable” with their chances ahead of the tournament.
“The more you win, the more enemies you create for yourself and I can tell you now that in the Afcon we will give a good account of ourselves,” the coach said.
“When we started nobody gave us a chance, now people are starting to raise eyebrows and asking who are these ones coming from the South Africa? But they will know when we play them.”
Bafana Bafana have played the Algerica twice before at the Nations Cup. In 1996, South Africa won 2-1 in a quarterfinal on home soil, before going on to beat Tunisia 2-1 in the final.
They played to a 1-1 draw in 2000, allowing South Africa to qualify for the quarterfinals. SA finished third that year.
Second favourites to win the tournament, the Desert Foxes have only won the Afcon Cup once before, and that was in 1990. However, they had a cracker of a World Cup in Brazil last year, making the last 16.
Three players in the 23-man Algerian squad have been withdrawn due to injury. The latest is goalkeeper Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche, who injured his shin at training this week. He will be replaced by Cedric Si Mohamed from CS Constantine, the team’s management said.
In a round-up of the South Africans, Just Football says the players have their eyes set on a place in the latter stages of the tournament, despite the tough group.
“The players will also be looking to honour the memory of goalkeeper Senzo Mewiya who was shot dead in October 2014 – and the memory of their former captain will be a real driving force and potential inspiration in Equatorial Guinea.”
While determined, the squad of 23 is an inexperienced one, with an average of just 17 caps per player, Nick Said writes in Business Day on Friday.
The most experienced players are Bernard Parker, with 70 caps, and Reneilwe Letsholonyane, with 52. The least capped player is Ayanda Gcaba, who is a replacement for the injured Patrick Phungwayo, who has been sent home.
South Africa have played 35 matches at the Nations Cup finals since 1996. They have recorded 14 wins, 12 draws and 9 losses.
FULL BAFANA SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Brilliant Khuzwayo, Darren Keet, Jackson Mabokgwane
Defenders: Siyabonga Nhlapo, Anele Ngcongca, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Mulomowandau Mathoho, Rivaldo Coetzee, Thabo Matlaba, Ayanda Gcaba
Midfielders: Themba Zwane, Andile Jali, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Bongani Zungu, Thamsanqa Sangweni, Dean Furman, Thuso Phala, Mandla Masango, Oupa Manyisa
Strikers: Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie, Bongani Ndulula, Sibusiso Vilakazi
Withdrawn from squad due to injury: Patrick Phungwayo (returned home)
GROUP C FIXTURES
January 19 – South Africa v Algeria – Estadio de Mongomo: 9pm
January 23 – Senegal v South Africa – Estadio de Mongomo: 9pm
January 27 – Ghana v South Africa – Estadio de Mongomo: 8pm
AFCON 2015 FIXTURES
All times CAT (SA, GMT+2)
Saturday 17 January 2015
Equatorial Guinea v Congo – Estadio de Bata: 6pm
Burkina Faso v Gabon – Estadio de Bata: 9pm
Sunday 18 January 2015
Zambia v Congo DR – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyiacuten: 6pm
Tunisia v Cape Verde Islands – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyiacuten: 9pm
Monday 19 January 2015
Ghana v Senegal – Estadio de Mongomo: 6pm
Algeria v South Africa – Estadio de Mongomo: 9pm
Tuesday 20 January 2015
Cocircte d’Ivoire v Guinea – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 6pm
Mali v Cameroon – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 9pm
Wednesday 21 January 2015
Equatorial Guinea v Burkina Faso – Estadio de Bata: 6pm
Thursday 22 January 2015
Zambia v Tunisia – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyiacuten: 6pm
Cape Verde Islands v Congo DR – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyiacuten: 9pm
Friday 23 January 2015
Ghana v Algeria – Estadio de Mongomo: 6pm
South Africa v Senegal – Estadio de Mongomo: 9pm
Saturday 24 January 2015
Cocircte d’Ivoire v Mali – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 6pm
Sunday 25 January 2015
Gabon v Equatorial Guinea – Estadio de Bata: 8pm
Congo v Burkina Faso – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyiacuten: 8pm
Monday 26 January 2015
Cape Verde Islands v Zambia – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyiacuten: 8pm
Congo DR v Tunisia – Estadio de Bata: 8pm
Tuesday 27 January 2015
South Africa v Ghana – Estadio de Mongomo: 8pm
Senegal v Algeria – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 8pm
Wednesday 28 January 2015
Guinea v Mali – Estadio de Mongomo: 8pm
Cameroon v Cocircte d’Ivoire – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 8pm
Saturday 31 January 2015
Group A Winner v Group B Second Place – Estadio de Bata: 6pm
Group B Winner v Group A Second Place – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyiacuten: 9pm
Sunday 1 February 2015
Group C Winner v Group D Second Place – Estadio de Mongomo: 6pm
Group D Winner v Group C Second Place – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 9pm
Wednesday 4 February 2015
Quarterfinal 1 Winner v Quarterfinal 4 Winner – Estadio de Bata: 9pm
Thursday 05 February 2015
Quarterfinal 2 Winner v Quarterfinal 3 Winner – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 9pm
Saturday 07 February 2015
Semifinal 1 Loser v Semifinal 2 Loser – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 8pm
Sunday 08 February 2015
Semifinal 1 Winner v Semifinal 2 Winner – Estadio de Bata: 9pm
Source : SouthAfrica.info