3 June 2012

South Africa: FIFA Rankings Boost Bafana's Confidence

Photo: CAF Online
Ghana, the second-highest ranked squad on the contnent, celebrates a goal.

Pretoria — Bafana Bafana's rise from number 71 to 67 on the latest Coca Cola FIFA World Rankings has been welcome news for the national football team, who take on Ethiopia on Sunday for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil qualifiers.

With these latest rankings, South Africa is now placed 14th on the African continent and this move should come as a morale boost ahead of their match against the Black Lions, which will be played at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Phokeng near Rustenburg. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Bafana will share the venue with their female counterparts, Banyana Banyana, who will be hosting Nigeria in an international friendly match that will be played at 7pm.

Both teams have been training in the North West, with Banyana's eye on the Olympic Games to be held in London late next month, while Bafana are embarking on the road to Brazil.

Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune said: "Everyone is anticipating a good game and a win from us, and we promise our supporters that we will go all the way and win the first game and get all three points.

"That is possible with the support of our fans. We know that in the past people have written us off, saying we are not delivering as we were not scoring goals, but I think things will change come Sunday.

"We haven't tasted success in the last few games and that is why the nation has lost confidence in us, but I believe good days are coming back, starting this Sunday. The more goals we score and win games, the more it helps to bring back the crowds."

However, the Kaizer Chiefs skipper has also cautioned that it won't be an easy match, despite the visitors being ranked 138th on the FIFA World Rankings.

"The teams that we think are small are the ones that catch us by surprise because we go into the match thinking [that] we are going to win ... We don't ... underestimate any opponent because more often than not, small teams are highly motivated to play against the big teams and they will want to prove a point, but we are up to the challenge," he said.

Bafana held their last training session on Saturday morning at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, while the visitors, who arrived in South Africa on Friday afternoon, completed their preparations at the match venue on Saturday evening.

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