–Mashaba says South Africa will break Nigeria jinx in Cape Town
Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba believes Wednesday’s African Nations Cup qualifier against Nigeria will be a ‘defining moment’ for his team.
The national team arrived back in the country on Saturday morning and proceeded straight to Cape Town to start preparing for the game.
“We are meeting our nemesis but my gut feel is that all that [never beating Nigeria] is about to change. Wednesday should be a defining moment,” he said.
Friday’s morale-boosting 3-0 victory over Sudan in Omdurman comes against the backdrop of the South Africa Under-20 team qualifying – also under Mashaba’s guidance – for the CAF Youth Championships that will be played in Senegal next year after beating African powerhouse Cameroon 2-1 in Polokwane to complete a 3-2 aggregate win.
Mashaba said that for an absolute change of culture, Bafana Bafana as the torchbearers had to lead the way.
“Of late, Bafana Bafana had become a laughing stock and had lost credit within the football standing and we need to restore that acclaim. We must bring back the pride to our national team and I am glad with the 3-0 win away from home. It is a beginning of that rebuilding process,” said Mashaba.
The Bafana mentor has left the Under-20 position to concentrate on the senior team and said the 3-0 win over Sudan was a great platform on which to build good things.
“Once we weathered the storm in the opening minutes, in which they pumped long-balls up-front, I knew we would achieve our goal of coming away with three points. And the boys stuck to the script.
“In the second half we completely dominated the game and with clinical finishing, the scoreline could have been six, seven or eight. But the 3-0 win is quite encouraging and we need to maintain the momentum.”
Although Dean Furman and Andile Jali controlled the midfield with aplomb and up-front Sibusiso Vilakazi scored two important goals, Mashaba refused to single out any individuals for praise.
“I think the entire team played well and it will be unfair to single out individuals. It was a great team effort and I think all the players deserve praise.”