By FOCUS REPORTER
Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has paid a surprise visit to Bafana Bafana at their base camp in Rustenburg. Mbalula came in to wish the national team well ahead of Wednesday’s international friendly match against Kenya at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium; kickoff is scheduled for 20H35.
“I am here just to wish you guys well when you play Kenya tomorrow night, and I am looking forward to a very good match. I remember very well that in your last match against the USA in Cape Town you should have won, but I am almost certain that we have learnt a lot from that encounter and against Kenya we will come out tops. I just hope South Africans will come in their numbers to support you. I wish you all of the best,” said Minister Mbalula.
Bafana Bafana vice captain Steven Pienaar, who has been declared fit to play against Kenya is hopeful for victory, which will put the team in the right frame of mind against Egypt next month.
“We know the importance of the game against Egypt that is why it is key that we do well against Kenya as this is the only preparation we have before we face Egypt. We can’t afford to make mistakes tomorrow night, but have to ensure that we rectify them when we play the North Africans, so tomorrow night game is very crucial to us. Many people are expecting us to win easily and this makes it a difficult match against Kenya as they will come here with nothing to lose. Every game we play we want to win, no matter the opposition, and we should take this mentality into every match,” said Pienaar.
His words were echoed by defender and teammate at Tottenham Hotspur, Bongani Khumalo.
“To many people this is just a friendly match, but for us in the team it’s more than that. It’s a big game for us and we need to make the best of it by getting positive results. We have done well by climbing high on the FIFA/Coca Cola World Rankings, so a good result will help that trend continue. Also we are preparing for Egypt so there is no motivation needed for any of the guys, we all want to be part of that squad against the reigning African champions,” said Khumalo.
With Bafana Bafana’s regular left back, Tsepo Masilela out of the team, Ruben Cloete of Orlando Pirates will be hoping for a run against Kenya, but he is aware there is strong competition for the position.
“I am really happy to have made it into this squad, I was hoping for a call-up someday but was not expecting it so soon. Even though Tsepo is not here it is not a given that I will play as we have Tom (Mzivukile) who is also a good player and can do a great job so we just have to wait for the coach to announce the team then we take it from there. At the end of the day whoever is picked we have to support each other as we are all working for our country,” said Cloete.
Forward Sifiso Myeni is the only newcomer in the squad but will not let that distract him.
“My first day in camp was a very good one, with all the players welcoming me. It’s really great to be here and to be frank I did not expect to be included, this was just a big surprise for me. I can see there is strong competition in the team and most of the guys are established, but if I get a chance to play I will certainly do my best, and if I don’t I can only hope there will be more call-ups in future,” said Myeni.