Mario Booysen of South African during their Cosafa Castle Cup match against Tanzania at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana captain Mario Booysen says they are looking forward to the challenge of facing Zambia in the first leg clash of their 2018 CHAN qualifier in East London at 3pm on Saturday.

Booysen says they have to put the past behind them and focus on the task ahead.

This comes after several players withdrew from the squad and replacements had to be called in.

“At the end of the day it is football, we have to adapt to the situation, it is another challenge for us but one that we have to overcome. 

"It may seem like it has affected the preparations but it is really nothing to look into because all of the guys that are here have a good attitude. The players that have come in look just as ready,” said Booysen after Bafana’s first training session in East London.

“The fact is that we all have a responsibility to do our duty and perform for the national team, because when all is said and done, you really look forward to this moment in your career of representing your country. We don’t see any negatives but only positivity, so we have to get a good result.”

Stuart Baxter’s charges arrived in the coastal city on Wednesday and were warmly received by their fans at the airport, something that has given the players confidence to tackle Chipolopolo.

“We are quite confident, especially playing in East London looking at the way the fans welcomed us when we arrived here. 

"We know there is a lot of support coming from this side and we just have to come up with the correct performance. You can also see at training, and you can tell the guys are very confident,” added Booysen.

“It is important that we do well in the first leg because we don’t want to go to Zambia next week needing to get a result as it will be more difficult when we travel for the return leg. 

"The most important thing is not to concede, but on the other hand we need to score goals to stand any chance of winning this two-legged affair and qualifying for the tournament. 

"We have done very well up to this point, so we need to keep it up, and take it a notch higher as Zambia is not an easy team. We have had our challenges this week but we will put them aside come match day.”

The return leg is next weekend in Ndola, Zambia.

The overall winner will qualify for the 2018 CHAN tournament, which will be hosted by Kenya.

Africa News Agency

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