Bafana Bafana have completed preparation for their opening CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 qualifier against Gambia which will take place on Saturday.

Bafana Bafana have completed preparation for their opening CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 qualifier against Gambia which will take place on Saturday, 13 June 2015 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Kick-off is at 15h00.

The South Africans held their final training session at match venue this morning (Friday, 12 June).

Goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo is a doubtful starter as he is still recovering from a bout of flu – he sat out the final training session.

Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim Mashaba has been telling the players they need to start on a good note so as to emulate the 2015 AFCON qualifiers where they qualified for Equatorial Guinea with one match to spare.

“In the 2015 AFCON qualifiers everybody was willing to go because of the opposition (South Africa was drawn against Nigeria, Sudan and Congo), but now everyone thinks of Gambia and Mauritania and ask who are those? Those people (Gambia) have about ten overseas-based players in their squad. They are playing away they might come here, park the bus and be happy with a point, so it’s a big task for us to dismantle that defence,” said Mashaba.

In the last qualifiers, two teams qualified from each group for the tournament but this time around it is different.

“This is going to be very tricky and perhaps more difficult. It is important that we win all our home games and ensure we even do well on the road. Crucially we need to score goals because in the end goal difference might see us through. If we find Gambia open at the back we need to score as much as possible – at the end of the qualifiers you might have two nations deadlocked on points and the goal difference could come in handy,” added Mashaba.

The Bafana Bafana mentor will face Gambia without the services of striker Tokelo Rantie who has asked to be withdrawn from the squad due wedding to celebrations – this leaves strikers Thamsanqa Gabuza (who replaces Rantie), Vuyisile Wana, Bonginkosi Ntuli, Gift Motupa and Sphelele Ntshangase as options upfront.

“We want to take the game to Gambia on Saturday and see their reaction, but if we going to run like headless chickens we will be punished. If a team scores a goal when playing away, it becomes a double task to even matters,” said Mashaba.

“If you look at our midfielders they are very pacy and quick on the ball which will make our lives easy because we will be having players who will add numbers in attack and also when we defend. We can only hope that the strikers that we play there, because all of them are new in the team, will come to the party.”

Gambia landed in South African on Wednesday (10 June) after playing to a 1-all draw against Uganda.

This is Gambia’s first match in South Africa and against Bafana Bafana.

The Scorpions, as the Gambia national football team is known, have just recently returned to the international arena.

They played the qualifiers for the 2013 tournament in South Africa but lost to Algeria.

In the preliminary rounds of the 2015 qualifiers, they were drawn against the Seychelles but Gambia was kicked before the match was played due to age cheating in their U20 side at the African Youth Championship.

Tickets for the match are on sale for R80 and are still available at Shoprite, Checkers and Shoprite Checkers stores as well as Computicket outlets countrywide.

Fact file on 2017 Qualifiers at a glance:

• This will be first time Bafana Bafana face Gambia since readmission to international football in 1992

• Gambia will be 87th different opponent for Bafana Bafana since 1992

• With the clash against Gambia, South Africa will have played 42 of the 54 African countries – next in line is Mauritania in September

• By the end of the first round of matches Bafana Bafana will have played 43 out of the 56 nations of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), which is made up of 54 full members and associates Zanzibar and Reunion Islands

• On the continent, Bafana Bafana are yet to play Libya, Togo, Rwanda, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Djibouti, Eritrea, Comoros Islands and Somalia

• Bafana Bafana faced the most recent new addition to the list, Sudan, in the 2015 AFCON qualifiers

• South Africa have met African opposition on 227 occasions, recording 188 wins, 45 defeats and 64 draws

• They have now scored exactly 300 goals against opponents from the continent, conceding 177

• South Africa has played more matches against Zambia on the continent – 17, closely followed by Zimbabwe with 13

• Cameroon were the first African team to meet Bafana Bafana in July 1992 – South Africa has also been drawn against them in the 2017 Afcon qualifiers

• The two nations have met on seven previous occasions, with Bafana Bafana winning three, drawing three and suffered just one loss

Bafana Bafana squad:

GOALKEEPERS: Jackson MABOKGWANE (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Itumeleng KHUNE (Kaizer Chiefs), Brilliant KHUZWAYO (Kaizer Chiefs)

DEFENDERS: Anele NGCONGCA (Racing Genk FC, Belgium), Patrick PHUNGWAYO (Orlando Pirates), Thabo MATLABA (Orlando Pirates), Siyabonga NHLAPHO (Bidvest Wits), Clayton DANIELS (SuperSport United), Thulani HLATSHWAYO (BidVest Wits), Rivaldo COETZEE (Ajax Cape Town), Marc VAN HEERDEN (AmaZulu), Tshepo GUMEDE (Orlando Pirates), Ntsikelelo NYAUZA (Orlando Pirates)

MIDFIELDERS: Andile JALI (Oostende FC, Belgium), Oupa MANYISA (Orlando Pirates), Bongani ZUNGU (Mamelodi Sundowns), May MAHLANGU (Konyaspor FC, Turkey), Thulani SERERO (Ajax Amsterdam FC, Netherlands), Ayanda PATOSI (Lokeren FC, Belgium), Thuso PHALA (SuperSport United), Mandla MASANGO (Kaizer Chiefs), Jabulani SHONGWE (BidVest Wits)

STRIKERS: Bonginkosi NTULI (AmaZulu), Vuyisile WANA (Moroka Swallows), Thamsanqa GABUZA (Orlando Pirates), Gift MOTUPA (Baroka FC), Sphelele NTSHANGASE (Black Leopards).

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