Bafana Bafana will silence their critics with a win in their opening match of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) against tournament debutants Cape Verde on Saturday, says former Bafana striker Philemon Masinga.
"This tournament is not going to be easy since there are no longer smaller teams, and with us being regarded as underdogs because of the national team's failure to win games, I believe there would be a lot of surprises during the tournament," Masinga told SAnews on Tuesday.
"It is important for our national team to win their first group stage match as this will boost their confidence to win the remaining games, so I strongly believe that the national team will surprise us by winning their opening match on Saturday," he said.
The former Bafana striker was speaking to SAnews during an Afcon mobilisation campaign at Olympia stadium in Rustenburg.
In the morning, an open bus with the class of 1996 Bafana players, Rustenburg football legends and Platinum Stars players visited the Waterfall taxi rank and Phokeng plaza with the tournament's mascot, Takuma.
Rustenburg is playing host to a number of Afcon group stage matches, including matches involving tournament favourites Ivory Coast, Togo, Algeria and Tunisia.
While Bafana are faced with the challenge of not scoring goals, Masinga said: "Yes this is our major problem, but the coach has been working on it, and I have no doubt on the selected strikers.
"All these strikers [Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie, Lehlohonolo Majoro] and our top class striker Katlego Mphela will score goals for us during this tournament. Yes, Mphela has been out of action for few months because of an injury, but this is not a player to ignore when he's available."
Masinga urged South Africans to rally behind the national team throughout the tournament.
"In 1996, we were able to win the tournament because the nation was behind us, so as South Africans let us make it easy for our national team to win this tournament for us by giving them all our support."
Bafana play their opening match against Cape Verde at Johannesburg's National Stadium at 6pm on Saturday.