Mphela vows to bounce back

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Bafana Bafana striker Katlego Mphela says hell bounce back after taking flak from the crowd at Cape Town Stadium.

Tshepang Mailwane

Bafana Bafana striker Katlego Mphela says being booed by supporters “does not matter anymore” and is adamant he’ll bounce back after taking some flak from the crowd at Cape Town Stadium against Norway on Tuesday.

A rusty Mphela wasted three clear-cut opportunities against the Europeans and was jeered by supporters in Cape Town as Bafana lost 1-0. He, however, was not shaken by the crowd who wanted him off the pitch.

“I’m used to it now. It doesn’t matter to me anymore. You just have to move on as a player. I can’t blame all supporters, there are just a few who do that. I have to concentrate on the next game. That’s what matters to me,” Mphela said yesterday.

“The good thing is that I created chances for myself. For me the bigger picture is Cape Verde. Hopefully when that game comes I will be able to convert those opportunities.”

It is not the first time Mphela has been jeered by the country’s supporters, though. Against Ivory Coast in the Mandela Challenge in 2011, Mphela was a victim of boo boys for his poor showing in front of goal but silenced the crowd when he scored the equaliser. “It happens all over the world. I can’t dwell on that,” the Mamelodi Sundowns striker said.

Bafana have generally been a wasteful bunch in front of goal, making schoolboy errors in the final third of the pitch that have cost the team dearly. Some have questioned the quality of strikers in SA but Mphela says they need to start believing in themselves so they can convert more of the chances created for them.

“I don’t think there is a problem as such. I think it’s more about self-belief and confidence. We need to be composed in the final third. We do that at training and we score goals. Norway created less chances and they managed to score a goal. I believe we just need to be composed and convert the chances we create.”

Under pressure to score goals and help lead Bafana to Nations Cup glory, Mphela has called for the midfielders to chip in with some goals to take the burden off the strikers in the team.

“Top teams do that, where everyone, defenders and midfielders, score goals. Midfielders can try to get into good areas and get those tap-ins in the box. I think we will score more goals. They need to help as well.”

Midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane agrees with Mphela.

“It’s a team problem. Not only strikers miss opportunities, midfielders and defenders also miss chances. But because they are strikers, they are often blamed. We are working on it at training. So hopefully against Algeria, we will be able to score goals,” the Kaizer Chiefs creative midfielder said.

As Bafana prepare to take on Algeria tomorrow in their last international friendly before the Nations Cup, Mphela has called on his teammates to improve on their performance against Norway.

“We did well as a team against Norway. Obviously I think we still need to improve, especially in the final third of the pitch. Going into the Algeria game, we want to score goals so that we go into our opening game against Cape Verde with confidence,” the 28-year-old striker said.– The Star


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