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A titanic battle looms in Durban

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To say that the Zebras and Bafana Bafana clash is a make or break tie is an understatement, as both sides will be eager to claim three points knowing that a draw or less would confirm their elimination from the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers. The sides will lock horns at the Moses Mabhida Stadium this Saturday as the group stages of the World Cup Qualifiers have reached a nervous climax.

Despite the hype around the match, Group A leaders Ethiopia are still in the driving seat as they lead the group with 10 points. Zebras and Bafana will pin their hopes on Central African Republic (CAR) who have registered one win and four defeats in the group. CAR will host the Ethiopians at home on the same day as the Durban clash; the group’s bottom team has lost four games in a row but a shock win for them would be a boost for SA and Botswana.

 

The simultaneous placing of the matches will serve up a thrilling prospect for fans and players as the anxiety of checking regular updates of the results of corresponding fixtures will add more intensity to both games. Stanley Tshosane’s charges were given a life line when they were awarded three points because Ethiopia had used a defaulter in their match at the Lobatse Sports Complex two months ago.

As a result the Zebras have seven points in third spot on the log while Gordon Igesund’s side is second with eight points accumulated. A win for either side and a defeat for Ethiopia would confirm passage to the next stage of qualifying.

Zebras will be boosted by the number of players currently plying their trade in the Premier Soccer League (PSL). Botswana has 10 players in the PSL but eight of those players are active in the international football setup. Their presence will surely add more strength to the national team since they are familiar with the atmosphere of the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

 

Gazette Sport understands that Botswana’s technical team has not been able to travel to personally scout Bafana games but the coach told this reporter that they have seen television footage of their opponents’ games.

The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Shaw Kgathi, announced yesterday (Monday) that the squad will get a bonus of approximately P500 000 if they win against Bafana on Saturday. Kgathi made the announcement during a lunch held at Gaborone Sun to address the national team ahead of the crucial match.

 

Ones to watch 

South Africa’s workaholic midfield pair of Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Dean Furman was the main reason behind their impressive AFCON 2013 campaign. If selected, Ofentse Nato and Dirang Moloi would have to tussle with the duo in order to control the game. The possible midfield battle will be vital in each side’s bid to influence the outcome of the match.

Wing-play could also be vital as the likes of Siphiwe Tshabalala, Thulani Serero, Joel Mogorosi and Lemponye Tshireletso will aim to stamp their authority on the match to provide crucial passes and crosses to their respective teammates. The threat posed by wingers will also hype up each side’s full-backs to rise to the occasion. The important match has all the ingredients.

 

Head to head record 

10 Jan 1993 Botswana 0-2 South Africa (International friendly)

20 Feb 1999 Botswana 1-2 South Africa (COSAFA Cup)

30 Mar 2002 Botswana 0-0 South Africa (COSAFA Cup) SA won on penalties

21 May 2006 Botswana 0-0 South Africa (COSAFA Cup) Bots won on penalties

29 Sept 2007 Botswana 0-1 South Africa (COSAFA Cup)

16 Jan 2008 Botswana 1-2 South Africa (International friendly)

09 Jun 2012 Botswana 1-1 South Africa (World Cup Qualifier)

 

Possible line ups: 

SA; Khune – Ngcongca, Khumalo, Xulu, Masilela – Serero, Letsholonyane, Furman, Tshabalala – Parker, Rantie (4-4-2)

Zebras; Dambe – Motlhabankwe, Thuma, Ncengca, Olerile – Mogorosi, Nato, D. Moloi, Ngele, Tshireletso – Ramatlhakwana (4-5-1)

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