Durban — Bafana Bafana know they have to avoid a repeat of their epic choke against Cape Verde in 2017’s World Cup qualifiers when they meet Libya at the same venue, Durban, in Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier.
At their second training session at the Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu on Tuesday, the South Africans said they had to apply themselves and take nothing for granted against 101st-ranked Libya.
Bafana’s opening 2-0 away win against Nigeria in June 2017 means they can put themselves firmly in the driving seat to qualify for Cameroon 2019 by beating Libya at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. With Seychelles surely the whipping boys in Group E, a victory on Saturday would leave the South Africans needing some choke not to finish at least second and reach the finals.
But the last time SA were in such a position they did choke, with a 2-1 away defeat against Cape Verde.
That was followed by an even more costly defeat by the same scoreline in the return match in Durban, effectively ending a chance at reaching the World Cup in Russia.
Bafana goalkeeper Ronwen Williams said that defeat against Libya would nullify the team’s hard work in beating Nigeria.
"Nigeria are one of the powerhouses in Africa, and winning against them shows that we can beat anyone," Williams said.
"We need to take control of the group by winning our home games. If we win our home games it will put us on 12 points, and that will be enough. We need to stay focused and believe in ourselves. We haven’t done that in the past. We’ve got to qualify so it’s time that we show it on the field.
"We don’t want to go with a mind-set that Libya should be beaten. That’s how we messed up last year.
"We need to take our home games seriously. If we go out there and beat someone 7-0, so be it. But we mustn’t go out with that attitude that anyone should be beaten. We need to show it on match day. We shouldn’t talk. We should start acting and showing our quality."
Captain Thulani Hlatshwayo said SA have to focus.
"We’re obviously not happy to have sat at home watching Senegal and Nigeria playing at the World Cup, knowing very well that we had beaten Nigeria away in the Afcon," the Bidvest Wits defender said.
"We need to make sure that we apply ourselves on Saturday," Hlatshwayo said.
"This game is so important, also because there are a few guys in the squad for whom this might be their last opportunity to represent their country in an Afcon," he added.
"If we can win on Saturday, and beat Seychelles twice, by the time Nigeria come here [in November] we can have secured our place."
Bafana’s three replacements — Orlando Pirates winger Vincent Pule, Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Tiyani Mabunda and SuperSport United utility player Maphosa Modiba — participated in Tuesday’s training session. They arrived as additions for the injured Themba Zwane, Hlompho Kekana and Bongani Zungu. Lebogang Mothiba’s hamstring tear was confirmed by his Ligue1 club, Strasbourg.
Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has called up Bidvest Wits’ Mxolisi Macuphu as a like-for-like replacement for the big centre-forward.
The SuperSport pair of midfielder Dean Furman and striker Bradley Grobler, who both arrived in camp with knocks, had a light training session.