After opening their 2014 African Nations Championship campaign with a 3-1 win over Mozambique, Bafana Bafana are in an upbeat mood ahead of their showdown with Mali at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday.
South Africa is top of Group A following their defeat of the Mambas, while Mali beat Nigeria 2-1 in their opening game and lie second in the pool on goal difference. A win for either team on Wednesday would almost certainly ensure their progress to the quarterfinals.
'We will get the better of them'
Bafana Bafana midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi believes the home team has what it takes to do well against Mali.
"We are well aware of what lies ahead of us. We have been studying their videos and I am convinced we will get the better of them because we know what to expect," Vilakazi said in a statement issued by the SA Football Association (Safa) on Tuesday. "They are physically strong but I am certain we will compete.
"If they go unchecked," he warned, "they could be a serious threat.
"We know it is going to be a tough one, but we will go there very much prepared because we have had two good training sessions since our match against Mozambique.
"From what we saw in their clash against Nigeria, Mali is, without doubt, a good team but they can be beaten."
South Africa's victory over Mozambique has boosted the mood in the camp ahead of the clash with Mali, Vilakazi added. "It was important for us to get a good start and we want to build on to that. It was never a simple game. It's never easy in a tournament like this as everyone wants to win. We are motivated to win," he added.
Fellow midfielder Matthew Pattison, who earned his third cap against Mozambique, was also upbeat after Bafana Bafana's winning performance on Saturday. "First of all, it's good to be back in the national team fold. It is great to see one's hard work rewarded.
"We have a new coach and new faces, so it's nice to see a bit of variety in the team," Pattison said.
"We want to get to the knockout stages and the dressing room is upbeat, but we know we can do better. We are aware that the Mali players are a bit physical, but I enjoy that side of the game, so I should be able to compete."
South Africa and Mali kick off at 17:00 on Wednesday, followed by Nigeria against Mozambique at 20:00.