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29 May 2012 14:49
Bafana Bafana captain Steven Pienaar. (Gallo)
Pienaar had an outstanding six-month loan back at his former club, from Tottenham Hotspur, where his all-round play improved after a poor, injury-marred year.
“I’ve been working hard after coming back from my injury,” the creative midfielder said ahead of South Africa’s opening 2014 World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia on Sunday.
“I went back to Everton and sat down with the coach and had a chat.
“He [Moyes] wanted me to get into the box more and be more selfish [in front of goal].”
With the national side having struggled up front in the last year, Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane said this week that the contribution from midfield was critical.
“Pienaar has improved. He goes in there now and takes shots,” Mosimane said.
“It’s good for the team because for us it’s not about [Katlego] Mphela and [Siyabonga] Nomvethe getting goals.
“[Siphiwe] Tshabalala is also scoring goals and [Siyabonga] Sangweni is also scoring from the back.
“We need more goals from everyone.”
Mosimane felt that 11 from a possible 18 points would be good enough to finish top of their group and advance to the next qualifying stage.
Claiming six points over Ethiopia this weekend and Botswana next week will be crucial ahead of their next meeting with Central African Republic next year March.
Pienaar, though, warned against underestimating their first two opponents.
The plucky East Africans are expected to hold their own, while Botswana are still buoyed by their first Africa Cup of Nations appearance earlier this year.
“There are no easy games in football anymore,” Pienaar said.
“I know Ethiopia won’t be easy when we face them but it’s a crucial game for us because these points are vital.” – Sapa
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