Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba described their Africa Cup of Nations encounter against Senegal on Friday evening as a “must-win”.
“There is no way we cannot feel the pressure. But everyone is under pressure, even the opposition,” Mashaba said ahead of the match. “So we are the same in that regard even though they have the advantage of three points from the first match and they won’t take this match lightly.
“They will be spitting fire just like us because we want to win this game to remain on course with our plan of going further in this tournament.”
Bafana face the Lions of Teranga in a crucial second group-C clash at 9pm at the Estadio de Mongomo, in Equatorial Guinea. They are desperate for maximum points to keep their Afcon dream alive after suffering a 3-1 loss to Algeria in their opening match.
Senegal, meanwhile, would be out to secure their path to the next round, having defeated Ghana 2-1 in their opening match.
“The game is going to be tough. We both need the points because if we beat them we are level on points,” said Mashaba. “Our boys are ready, we made them aware of what to expect and they must not read too much into the results of the last game as this is a different ball game altogether.”
Mashaba was not fazed by Bafana’s poor record against Senegal, having won three and drawn two of their previous encounters. “History is something that is good to refer to but we are in different times. All that has happened before won’t happen again.
“Unfortunately we are playing them at a wrong time when we are wounded. We will definitely make sure that we win this match.”
Bafana captain Dean Furman said the players had moved on from the loss to Algeria and were now focused on the new challenge. “If the confidence drops too low or you think too much about the last match then you won’t be ready for the next game,” Furman said.
“It is important for us to realise that we have a very crucial game. We have had a talk as a team and we are fully prepared for what lies ahead of us.”
Bafana welcomed the return from suspension of Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Eric Mathoho after they missed their opening match.
“Those are two massive players for us with a lot of experience. Reneilwe has over 50 caps for Bafana. To have them back in contention is a massive boost for us and adds to a fight for places which also gives the coaches a selection headache, something that is healthy for the team.”
Bafana starting XI for Senegal match: Jackson Mabokgwane, Anele Ngcongca, Thabo Matlaba, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Eric Mathoho, Dean Furman, Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa, Thuso Phala, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Tokelo Rantie. – Sapa