By Vincent Sitsula
LIBREVILLE, GABON, Jan 14 (NNN-SABC) — Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba has been placing emphasis on defending against set pieces in training sessions ahead of the international friendly against Mali in Libreville, Gabon, Wednesday in a warm-up match for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.
The South Africans are wrapping up their preparations for the AFCON 2014 which kicks off this Saturday in Equatorial Guinea. Bafana have been grouped with African giants for the biennial continental footballing showpiece tournament, alongside number one ranked team on the continent Algeria, four-times AFCON champions Ghana and Senegal.
Algeria was the only team from the continent to reach the second round at last year’s World Cup in Brazil. The friendly against the much feared Cameroon was designed to deal with the physical threat posed by the West Africans.
Mashaba says he is hoping the friendly against Mali will help them to deal with another crucial aspect of the game.
“Yes, they are the same but if you look at the Malians most of them are tall so that’s why today (Tuesday) we are working on set pieces against us and trying to play against them. But I think we still expect another good run by the time we finish the Mali game. We will be ready for the tournament.”
Mashaba also justified the selection of Orlando Pirates utility player Ayanda Gcaba, who replaced his injured club mate Patrick Phungwayo. Mashaba says the African champions league experience and versatility got him the nod.
Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie and Rivaldo Coetzee are carrying slight knocks and will be rested as a precaution. Kick-off for the friendly is at 4pm South African time on Wednesday.