Cameroon U-23s face more focused locals

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

The South African Under-23 team should register their first win in the Sasol Eight Nations Tournament at the expense of Cameroon at Meadowlands Stadium in Soweto today (3.35pm).

The South Africans were somewhat disjointed in their scoreless draw against China in their opening clash on Wednesday but should find their footing this afternoon.

Steve Komphela's charges should be commended for keeping a clean sheet against the defending champions, considering that they were playing together for the first time.

But it will be suicidal for South Africa to underestimate Cameroon based solely on their loss to perceived minnows Botswana, who have brought the best of their fast-improving Olympic squad.

There is also the possibility of a backlash from Cameroon and in football everyone raises their game against the host nation.

South Africa coach Steve Komphela has insisted he wants to win the tournament to boost confidence in his camp ahead of the group stages of the Beijing 2008 Olympic qualifiers.

Orlando Pirates striker Excellent Walaza, who made a difference when he came on in the second half against China, should start this afternoon. Komphela might be tempted to partner the live-wire Bucs hit-man with unknown Clive Moyo-Modise upfront.

The England-based Moyo-Modise arrived in the country on Wednesday and was given time to rest in midweek.

AmaZulu striker Sibusiso Ntuli is another player who could cause damage to Cameroon upfront.

Mkhanyiseli Siwahla has the ability to tear the Cameroon midfield into shreds, but will be a factor only if he does away with his sometimes selfish play. The Ajax Cape Town youngster has skill and pace but he is not a good finisher. He remains the hosts' trump card, though.

Kagiso Senamela is another key player for South Africa in midfield and an added advantage is that the AmaZulu linkman has a penchant to score.

The South African defence needs a degree of composure against the west Africans after they were exposed by China at times. But Senzo Meyiwa did well against the obdurate Chinese side and should start ahead of the uncapped Mamelodi Sundowns youngster Jackson Mabokgwane.

All said, South Africa's strengths against China far outweighed their weaknesses and Komphela and his assistants must have rectified their flaws.