Basetsana ready for DRC

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

A spirit of self-assurance reigned at Edenvale sports grounds yesterday as Basetsana began with their final preparations for the last leg of the Under-20 World Cup qualifier against the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday.

The South Africans take a 3-1 lead to Kinshasa, knowing that the 90 minutes awaiting them in the DRC capital will be energy-sapping.

Anna Monate and her charges are also well aware that they will need to show nerves of steel to overcome the Congolese in front of their frightening supporters.

The Congolese might have lost the first leg in Pretoria a fortnight ago, but they should be psychologically ready for the tie with history on their side.

The DRC won on the away goals rule to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals when they narrowly beat Basetsana 1-0 at the same venue.

The South Africans had won the first leg 2-1 in Pretoria.

The defeat in Kinshasa is still indelibly etched in the minds of many South Africans because it denied Basetsana an opportunity to make history by becoming the first junior team - boys or girls - to play in the World Cup finals.

But Basetsana are more than eager to beat their rivals this time round.

Goalkeeper Mandy "Spider" de Araujo, Basetsana goalie, said though they are faced with a Herculean task in Kinshasa, they have the ability to beat the Congolese in their backyard.

"We are still hurt by that defeat because we were so close to playing in the World Cup for the first time and they denied us that rare opportunity," said the 18-year-old De Araujo, who played in that match.

Gifted midfielder Memory Makhanya, 19, said she was fit and looking forward to the match.

"I'm ready to help my teammates to overcome the challenges in Kinshasa," she said.

Added Skipper Gloria Thato: "We are not regarding this match as revenge because doing so would be like putting ourselves under pressure. The Congolese are physically strong, but we are fitter and more skilful than they are."

Mbali Bengu was the only player who did not train yesterday after she suffered an ankle injury at the High Performance Centre last Friday.

But coach Monate said she was positive the Sunflower Ladies midfielder would pass a late fitness test.

The squad:

Goalkeepers - De Araujo, Nthabiseng Matshaba;

Defenders - Nothando Vilakazi, Thato, Bengu, Mary Ntsweng, Bonolo Molete, Xolisile Mnikathi;

Midfielders - Kylie-Ann Louw, Makhanya, Tina Selepe, Mamello Makhabane, Sizakele Thwala, Tamara Dlayedwa;

Forwards - Lusinda Bowers, Chantelle Essau, Busisiwe Ndimeni and Mapohokoane Serobyane.