Crunch time for Bafana in Afcon qualifiers

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It’s crunch time for Bafana Bafana in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers as they play away to Libya on Sunday. Bafana are currently second in their group and need just one point to qualify for this year’s Afcon in Egypt this June.

The match will be played in Tunisia due to the political turmoil in Libya. Stuart Baxter, Bafana Bafana coach, says that the Bafana players are fired up.

“The boys are fired up and it is a question of pulling them back a little bit than driving them on. So it will be interesting to see how we can convert those ideas we have into an 11 vs. 11.”

Nigeria leads the group. They’ve already booked their spot with 10 points from five matches.

Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo says that they are aware of what’s riding on their performance against Libya.

“When Bafana Bafana wins, the country is in a happy mood so we know how important the game is and we know that we are representing our families, our friends, ourselves and most importantly; we are representing our country.”

Bafana Bafana midfielder, Hlompho Kekana, says that they will try to press the opponents.

“We would try to press them higher and force them to play uncomfortable because they rely more on long balls. So we will try and play them where they don’t want to play, which is in their half.”

Bafana last played in the Afcon tournament in 2015 under the stewardship of Ephraim Shakes Mashaba. A positive result against Libya will see them return to a tournament they last won in 1996.

Bafana’s European based brigade is raring to go. Midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo says that they will focus on the game fully.

“We deal with the pressure by forgetting about the past and staying in the here and now; I think that’s important. We played them before; we know how they want to set up.”

Midfielder Thulani Serero, says that the players know the importance of the game.

“Every player knows the importance of the game, scoring goals. I think winning the game and a draw is enough, but we want to win the game and qualify for the Afcon.”

Bafana will miss influential goalkeeper, Itumeleng Khune due to an injury, but goalkeeper coach Andre Arendse says that the selected goalkeepers are consistent.

“When you look at Ronwen and Darren, and you look at consistency in the goalkeeping department; that has been the reason behind the call ups. The third choice of cause is Bruce. He has been with us in Cosafa before, we know what he is capable of, we know what he can bring.”

The Afcon qualifier kicks off at 19:00 on Sunday.

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