Sounds cocky but Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, was jogging the memories of those who have already written South Africa off ahead of today’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against rivals Nigeria at Joburg’s FNB Stadium (3pm kick-off).
Bafana detractors have been claiming all week long that there’s actually no rivalry at all because results between the two sides have been so one-sided, the Super Eagles beating their South African counterparts 10 times out of 11 qualifying matches over the years.
“I would say as players we want to create history by beating them twice,” Hlatshwayo said, referring to last year’s 2-0 win in Uyo during the opening round of the Afcon qualifiers.
“It’s an important game. But we have done this before. We know that if we win we qualify for the tournament in Cameroon next year.”
As far as permutations go, Nigeria only need to draw with Bafana today to book their place at the Afcon, while the hosts need all three points to avoid risking to have to travel to a neutral venue in March to face an unpredictable Libya side still searching for a victory to qualify.
“I would love to see our players go all out,” said the Bafana skipper and centre-back.
“It is going to be a different ball game compared to when we played Seychelles here (in a 6-0 romp last month). It will be tactical, and we know they have their own stars, but so do we. The good thing is that so far in the qualifiers we have kept a clean sheet, which is what we now have to do again.”
Hlatshwayo gave the kind of reply any South African would want to hear when asked if Bafana were drawing too much on permutations – that even if they lose or draw, they could still reach the Afcon by beating Libya in the final Group E game.
“As a country we have done too much of that, look at calculators. The players want to do it in 90 minutes, by ourselves on the field,” he said.
“What we need to do is get the results that are required. When we go to Libya we want to do that knowing very well that we have already qualified.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we are up for the challenge. Yes, we are not the same team that beat them last year because of the injuries to the squad, but you can see with the way we have kept clean sheets that the (new) combinations are working.”
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Darren Keet (Wits)
Defenders: Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Chiefs), Motjeka Madisha (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyanda Xulu (Maritzburg United), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates), Thulani Hlatshwayo, S’Fiso Hlanti, Buhle Mkhwanazi (all Wits), Thamsanqa Mkhize (Cape Town City)
Midfielders: Vincent Pule, Thembinkosi Lorch (both Pirates), Fortune Makaringe (Maritzburg), Lebohang Maboe, Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda (all Sundowns), Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport), Thulani Serero (Vitesse)
Strikers: Lebo Mothiba (Strasbourg), Percy Tau (Royal Union), Dino Ndlovu (Zhejiang), Themba Zwane (Sundowns)@superjourno
Independent on Saturday