Mashaba thanks clubs for support
Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim Mashaba has conveyed his greatest gratitude to the clubs who made available the players who were able to defeat Mauritius 3-1 despite being assembled just 24 hours before the first leg of the 2016 CHAN qualifier.
Mashaba is expected to name his squad this week and the team is back in camp on Sunday, 28 June before tackling the Islanders on the weekend of 3, 4, 5 July.
A brace from Sphelele Ntshangase and one goal from Thamsanqa Gabuza were enough to see South Africa victorious in the first leg played on Saturday afternoon (20 June 2015) at the Dobsonville Stadium.
Bafana Bafana was rocked by withdrawals of as much as 12 players, leaving 11 players in camp but still managed to get to 19 by the time the match kicked off. Two of the players were not eligible due to not having passports.
“I don’t want to dwell on that issue, it is behind us. But what we saw with those boys is more proof of how much talent we have in the country. If you select a team one day before the match and they play this well, it tells us a lot. Maybe there are some things we need to sort out as a nation as a country,” said Mashaba.
“Every time I bring in a player into the national team I always remind them that they are professional players, even when called at the eleventh hour they must be ready. I believe they played very well and they are aware of what is expected from them. With that said I would like to say thank you to all the clubs who assisted us with players, we really appreciate the support and let’s hope it’s not the last time they do it. They really came on board when we needed them the most.”
Back to the match, the Bafana Bafana mentor was impressed with what he saw on the field and even suggested taking the whole team to Mauritius.
“The boys did very well and again we created more chances despite the three goals we scored – but they should be enough to give us the courage we need for the return leg in a fortnight,” said Mashaba.
“We started on a high note and they did not offer much threat. Second half we went to sleep, we were not as forceful as the first half, and also they were a bit robust in their approach – tackles were flying and eventually one of their players got a red card. But overall the players did very well, more so some of them arrived on the eve of the match. We intend taking the whole team, with some few additions, Mauritius for the away leg.”
His sentiments were echoed by goalkeeper and captain of the day Itumeleng Khune.
“I want to commend the players for the courage they showed in the 90 minutes and credit to the coach and his technical team for believing in the team they have assembled. We didn’t get a fair chance to train together, resulting in only one training session with other guys only joining the night before,” said Khune, who celebrated his 28th birthday on match day.
“We were professional enough to give it our all in the match and get a positive result, so in two weeks’ time we are going away to finish what we started. Hopefully the coach will get the support he deserves from the teams by releasing the players to honour the second leg.”
He adds that as players they were almost affected by the turn of events leading to the match.
“It was very difficult for us especially the experienced players like Mandla and myself, we couldn’t motivate the players. At some stage there were just ten of us in camp and we looked at ourselves and found we were not balanced, if we were to go into a match what could happen. It was a great morale booster when we saw other players coming in and the team starting to take shape that’s when we started switching on and focusing more on the job at the hand,” said Khune.
“All the away matches have been tough for us but with a good attitude and approach we will go there and score more goals to stretch the lead since we are three goals to the good. If we play the way we did today I believe we will come back victorious.”