30 January 2013

South Africa: Tshabalala Not Too Worried About Being On the Bench

Bafana Bafana winger Siphiwe Tshabalala is not worried about not getting a lot of game time in the Orange Africa Cup of Nations South Africa 2013 that is currently underway.

Shabba, as the dreadlocked midfielder is commonly known, was last in the starting 11 during the opening game of the tournament against Cape Verde Islands. Since then he has watched from the bench in the last two matches against Angola and Morocco.

Tshabalala is the highest capped player in the squad with 74 appearances.

"It is not about me, but the team winning the tournament and uniting the nation through sport. Obviously if I get a chance again I will be grateful and will take it. I will do my best to help the team achieve its objectives," said Tshabalala.

"There are no hard feelings between the players who play and those who don't. We get along very well and complement each other. That is what has made us tick. We do so many things together on and off the field and we are like a family. Everyone is determined and showing hunger, which shows how bad we want this tournament, not for us as players but for the nation."

Bafana Bafana face Mali in the quarterfinals on Saturday, 2 February at the intimidating Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. The venue has become a fortress for the host nation and Gordon Igesund's side will start Saturday's encounter hot favourites to proceed to the penultimate stage of the competition.

The match is scheduled to kick-off at 20h30.

One player who is definitely out of the clash is defender Anele Ngcongca who is suspended after being cautioned twice in the group stages.

"It's sad that I won't feature in this match because I was really looking forward to it, but then again it's part of the game. It's a great pity that I won't be on field but watching from the stands. I am confident that whoever gets the chance to play in that position will do a magnificent job because we are all working on one mission - to proceed to the semi-finals and go all the way in the tournament," said Ngcongca.

The man who is set to replace him is right back Siboniso Gaxa.

"We have to be positive all the time. No one is guaranteed a place in the team, everyone deserves to play but only 11 can start at any given time. It would be nice for me to represent my country on home soil. I am really looking forward to that if I do start," said Gaxa.

"I have played more than 50 times for the national team and this would be one of the big games for me and for the country."

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