30 January 2013

South Africa/Mali: Bafana's Majoro Fit to Face Mali

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.

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

Majoro, who sustained a shin injury in South Africa's 2-0 win over Angola, will be training alone until Thursday.

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

"Everything happens for a reason," Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said on Tuesday. "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," Igesund said.

"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 said Bafana Bafana would 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."

The 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."


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