South Africa: Mahlangu Hails South African Supporters

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Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix
May Mahlangu of South Africa scores one of the goals which took the host team through to the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bafana Bafana midfielder May Mahlangu has hailed the South African supporters for rallying behind the home team since the start of the 29th edition of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations South Africa 2013 calling them the best in the world.

Bafana Bafana has been playing in front of huge crowds in their last two matches - against Cape Verde Islands and Angola - in Johannesburg and Durban respectively and Mahlangu says he was thoroughly impressed by the unwavering support.

Now the last group stages clash against Morocco on Sunday (27 January), also in Durban, is sold out setting a tone for another carnival atmosphere at the gigantic and magnificent venue.

Bafana Bafana and Morocco have met three times before with the AFCON 2013 host nation winning on two occasions and drawing the other match - all the clashes being in the AFCON tourney.

South Africa beat Morocco 2-1 in a 1998 quarter-final match in Burkina Faso where they went on to finish as runners up.

Four years later they met in the group stages in Mali, Bafana Bafana overcoming the North Africans 3-1.

In 2004 they met in Tunisia in another group stages match which ended in a 1-all stalemate.

We spoke to May Mahlangu:

Q: Sunday's match is sold out, what does this mean and what does it do the national team?

MM: The sold out sign shows that people have seen what we are capable of and they believe in us. As a team we can only say thank you very much, and they must continue supporting us because they are a driving force behind us. We are playing at home and it's so inspiring as a player when you see so much support for the team, even when we are down. They really motivate us not to give up, it's a privilege to have them on our side.

Q: For you what does it mean playing in this tournament?

MM: It's a great experience and I am really enjoying myself. I just hope we continue to grow as a team because it means a lot to be playing in this tournament. It's a great honour to be among the 23 players chosen to represent your country in such an event. It also shows that we are all special in our own different ways. Now what we need to do is to repay the coach and the public by playing good football and making our country proud.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Angola win?

MM: I think it was a very good game, I was very happy with the overall performance of the team; we really wanted to win the game. We were ready to die on the field for the nation, and we are glad things just fell into place.

Q: How crucial was that victory?

MM: It meant a lot to us and to the country more so because things hadn't been going well for us. I am happy that we won the game and brought the support back. We showed the public that we can still do it; we showed them that nothing is impossible.

Q: What are your thoughts on Morocco?

MM: They are very good side and have a good football history, they are also very organised but we will do our best to unlock them and try to score goals. I believe we are ready for them. It is going to be very important for us to go out there and play good football. We are confident enough that we can do well against them.

Q: How far can we go in this tournament?

MM: Let us not look too far but take each game as it comes. The target now is to reach the quarter-finals and after that anything can happen. We are confident that we can go far, we just have to be positive and see where we end up. Like I said, anything is possible if you keep working hard, if you keep pushing yourself to reach greater heights, nothing can stop you. For all the 23 players here, there's no greater motivation than playing for your country and that makes you want to work even harder.

MAY MAHLANGU FACTFILE:

Born: 1 May, 1989

Position: Midfielder

Club: Helsingborg, Sweden

Caps: 8

Goals: 1

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