Durban – Bafana Bafana striker Lehlohonolo Majoro looks forward to facing Mali at his “home away from home” in Durban this week, but admits he will have to fight for his place in the starting XI after returning from injury.
The Kaizer Chiefs forward is fit again after missing South Africa's final Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group A encounter against Morocco on Sunday, which ended 2-2, due to a shin injury.
He is expected to play some role in their quarter-final against the Malians on Saturday.
“Durban is the first place I started my football at a professional level,” Majoro said on Thursday.
“For me it’s home away from home and I know I’ve got supporters here from (former club) AmaZulu, who’ve been loyal to me.
“Every time I play here I feel I have to do my best because there are so many people behind me.”
The 26-year-old, who started the team's opening game, a goalless draw against Cape Verde Islands, and scored as a substitute in their second match, a 2-0 win over Angola, admitted that a place in the starting XI was not a certainty.
“It’s always good for a striker to score goals because the more you score the more confidence you can gain.
“For me to score that goal really boosted my confidence, but no one is guaranteed their position. I have to come back now and fight for my position.
“Whoever is going to start on Saturday against Mali, I have full confidence that he’ll do the best.”
Majoro also defended his fellow strikers, who had received criticism in the build-up to the tournament as they struggled to find the back of the net.
“It’s not only about the strikers scoring goals, soccer is a team effort. You’ve got defenders scoring and we also help them to defend.
“There’s no such thing as individual glory because once you have that mentality, that could lead to you becoming selfish.”
This weekend’s game will be the first time South Africa are playing in the knockout stages of the continental showpiece in 11
years, and Majoro was delighted with their progress.
“I must say I am really happy that we made it through to the knockout stages. We really fought hard to be where we are.
“I believe the real work now is on Saturday, there’s no second chances.
“We really want to win to qualify (for the semifinals) and we know if we lose then we are out.”
Bafana were the lowest ranked team in their group, but finished top of the pool, and Majoro believed world rankings made little difference at Afcon.
Mali are rated third in Africa and 25th in the world, well ahead of the hosts, who are lying 21st in the continental list and a lowly 85th in the global rankings.
“Rankings don’t matter so much... it’s all about dedication and knowing exactly what you need to do,” Majoro said.
“We did that and we’ve done our homework on Mali too. I’m confident we’ll be ready.” – Sapa