BHELE WILL BE KEY

BAFANA Bafana striker Katlego "Killer" Mphela believes veteran striker Siyabonga "Bhele" Nomvethe's big-match experience could be important to South Africa's 2010 World Cup hopes.

BAFANA Bafana striker Katlego "Killer" Mphela believes veteran striker Siyabonga "Bhele" Nomvethe's big-match experience could be important to South Africa's 2010 World Cup hopes.

"I strongly believe we have a team that will make South Africa proud," he said at Bafana's training session at Marks Park in Emmarentia yesterday.

"It is good that we have experienced striker Siyabonga Nomvethe back in the team. He has played in big tournaments for Bafana Bafana where he did well for the country and we really need him to score more goals during the World Cup."

Mphela also described the World Cup opener against Mexico on June 11 as a must-win game to gain the confidence of the entire country. The Mamelodi Sundowns attacker said claiming the scalps of the Mexicans would psyche them up for their other two crucial matches in Group A against France and Uruguay.

"It is very important to win our first match since this will also ease the pressure on us. We are working hard to sharpen ourselves for the World Cup, but the immediate thing is to do well against Mexico," he said. "We cannot afford to let the country down and after doing well against Mexico we will channel all our energies into ensuring we qualify for the knockout stages.

"Everyone in the team wants to be part of the historic Bafana Bafana team to become the first to go beyond the group stages."

Bafana have featured in two World Cup finals, in 1998 in France and 2002 in Korea and Japan, where they bombed out in the first round.

Central defender Matthew Booth believes the country's incredible support for the national squad will spur them on to win.

"I know many people are not giving us a chance, but we have assembled a strong team that is determined to do well in the World Cup.

"The fact that we are underdogs is a blessing in disguise."

Meanwhile, England-based striker Benni McCarthy arrived in the country yesterday morning to join the team for the World Cup preparations.

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