Defender Siboniso Gaxa has thrown up his hand to fill the troublesome leftback position for Bafana Bafana in their Group G 2012 Africa Cup of Nations match against Egypt at Ellis Park Stadium on Saturday.
The right-footed Gaxa was training in the position in the team’s training session on Tuesday afternoon, and with his experience, is expected to play there against the nimble Pharaohs instead of natural left-backs, Ruben Cloete and Prince Hlela, who are yet to be tested at international level.
The most dangerous player in the Egyptian squad, Mohamed Zidan is expected to roam the right flank, and with injuries to the regular duo of Tsepo Masilela, Lucas Thwala and Mzivukile Tom — Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane was running thin of ideas for the starting berth, until he asked Gaxa if he would be keen to fill the void for his country.
The 26-year-old Gaxa has been capped 38 times at national level and was a regular feature on the right side of defence until he was usurped by Anele Ngcongca, who has now made the position his own, during last year’s World Cup.
“I have played in the position for Lierse, my club in Belgium and I’m ready to honour the invitation and play at leftback,” said Gaxa.
“This is for the country and you must represent the nation irrespective of the position you are put in, I know that Zidan is likely to be their right winger, but I’m looking forward to it and I’m ready for the challenge.”
‘We are not afraid of them’
The team’s scoring chances are placed squarely on the shoulders of striker Katlego “Killer” Mphela and the England-based Davide Somma, who could just be the prefered pairing upfront on the evening.
Mphela has rediscovered his best scoring form in the Premiership for Mamelodi Sundowns while the hard-working Somma got on the scoring sheet for the first for his country in last month’s friendly international against Kenya in Rustenburg.
Confidence though has never been short with Killer, who said on Wednesday that Bafana have nothing to fear from the North Africans.
“We want to show Egypt that we are not afraid of them,” Mphela said.
“We are experienced now and we know how to go out there and get a result, and since we have played against bigger teams, we have nothing to fear.
“I have played with Davide at training and he is a good player and we are both getting to know each other now. He’s strong, and plays as a target man and if I play with him, I will be deeper while he tries to hold the ball up, I think that it can work well.”
Bafana will travel back to Johannesburg on Thursday morning, having wrapped up their preparations at the state-of-the-art Royal Marang Hotel in Rustenburg. — Sapa