Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba thinks the opening 2018 World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso at the Municipal Stadium situated in the heart of the capital Ouagadougou can shape the rest of the qualifying campaign.
Bafana Bafana play hosts Burkina Faso on Saturday, 8 October. The match kicks off at 20h00 SA time.
“It is always ideal to have a great start. Once you are up and running and you get your campaign to a flying start, one thing normally follows the other and that is what we would like to see on Saturday.
The players are mentally and physically prepared. Some critics have spoken about the stifling heat but I don’t think it will be a factor because that heat will affect all of us,” said a confident Mashaba.
The South Africa Men’s National team arrived in Burkina Faso on Wednesday having travelled via Ghana and Ivory Coast and have had three days to acclimatise and soak in the intense heat. They had some light moments when they were greeted by a swarm of locusts on the day of their arrival and were again greeted by a hive of bees at their training session on Thursday. However, the technical team and players took the invasion by locusts and bees in their stride rather opting to focus on the challenge at hand.
“They say first impression last longer and we want to stamp our authority in this opening qualifier. Three points against Burkina Faso and another good result against Senegal at home in November and we will be in charge of our destiny,” added Mashaba.
A relaxed Senior Men’s National team coach said going into the break with six points would really give this campaign an impetus.
“That is what we need to do; go to the Festive break with six points in the bag. It will make our lives easier; make players more relaxed and eager to do even better in coming games. We have learnt our lessons from the 2017 AFCON campaign on how critical it is to start with a bang.
We have rectified where we went wrong, have planned the way forward and I am confident looking at the players body language that we are ready to take off in flying fashion.”
The match kicks off at 18h00 in Burkina Faso and 20h00 in South Africa and will be handled by Moroccan match officials.