/ 28 May 2008

Macbeth has a plan for Nigeria

Veteran Bafana Bafana midfield hard man Macbeth Sibaya has a simple plan for beating Nigeria when the two enemies meet in a crunch 2010 African Nations Cup group four qualifier in Abuja on Sunday. Kick-off is at 5pm South African time.

The Russia-based midfield destroyer, who plays in the first division for Rubi Kazan, says the formula for victory over the Super Eagles is to stick to new coach Joel Santana’s game plan.

Said Sibaya: ”There is little difference between the former coach [Carlos Alberto Parreira] and Santana. Both have the same ideas about the game. They share the same philosophy and tactics, so there is little difference. It is business as usual. We must simply stick to our plan and tactics and everything should fall into place.”

Sibaya was ”dropped” by Parreira for January’s African Nations Cup in Ghana, but he does not see his exclusion from the continental showpiece as being left out of the squad.

Said Sibaya: ”I never left Bafana. I would not have been able to play in Ghana. The Russian season ended on November 11 and the African Nations Cup started in the middle of January. It would have been impossible for me to be at my best after the two-month lay-off, so I am not upset about missing the tournament. I understand why I was not selected.”

But he will be given a key role as an anchor in midfield against the highly rated Nigerians. Santana is likely to adopt a safety-first defensive formation and Sibaya will be pivotal at the centre of the midfield.

As one of the senior players in the squad, Sibaya is aware of his responsibilities to the younger and less experienced players, not just on, but also off the field, as well.

Said Sibaya: ”We can expect a warm reception in Nigeria, which is part of the game. The senior players will take the younger ones under their wings.”

Striker Katlego Mashego is also keen to get into action. His chances of getting game time have improved after grabbing some vital goals late in the domestic season for his championship-winning side, SuperSport United, and from the fact that rival strikers Benni McCarthy and Lerato Chabangu are not in the frame for Nigeria.

Said the modest Mashego: ”I am going to enjoy the experience. I am not scared about the reputation and big stars that Nigeria have. This game will be a yardstick for my career; if I get selected I am ready to play.” — Sapa