30 January 2013

South Africa/Mali: Majoro Fit to Face Mali in Afcon Quarter Final

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Seydou Keita, Cheick Tidiane Diabate and Mahamane Traore of Mali celebrate their goalkeeper's achievements during the penalty shootout in which South Africa lost the quarter-final.

Pretoria — Bafana Bafana striker Lehlohonolo Majoro has recovered from his injury and is fit for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) sold out quarter-final match against Mali at the Moses Mabhida stadium on Saturday.

Majoro, who sustained a shin injury in South Africa's 2-nil win over Angola, will be training alone until Thursday.

However, bad news for the host nation is that their defender Anele Ngcongca, who has featured in all three Bafana Bafana matches in the tournament, has been suspended for the Mali clash after receiving two yellow cards in the group stages.

Bafana head coach, Gordon Igesund said: "Everything happens for a reason. Ngcongca is not available for our next match but (Siboniso) Gaxa has been working hard at training and now his opportunity has arrived.

"Maybe he is the right player for this match. Even if Ngcongca was available I think I would have used Gaxa. I think things were meant to happen this way.

"We are two games away from the final, the players understand where we are and we all know there is a huge challenge that lies ahead of us.

"We know what we have to do. When you get this far in any competition, you are self- motivated, but at the same time it gets tougher."

Igesund says they will not underestimate their opponents.

"Mali is a very talented team with very hard working players. They play differently to most teams we have faced; they like to slow things down. They knock the ball around and are very comfortable on the ball, but then again there are no easy games in the quarter-finals," he said.

The head coach said he was happy his players were starting to warm up to the occasion after a slow start to the tournament.

"To be honest, we were under huge pressure. It would have been an absolute tragedy had we not qualified for the last eight. So the pressure is off as far as that issue is concerned," said Igesund.

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