Home matches lightens weight on overseas players

Ntseki glad Bafana won't have to travel to Sao Tome

Neville Khoza Journalist
Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki instructs his troops including Mosa Lebusa during training at the Peoples Park, Moses Mabhida Stadium on November 11, 2020 in Durban.
Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki instructs his troops including Mosa Lebusa during training at the Peoples Park, Moses Mabhida Stadium on November 11, 2020 in Durban.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

With the back-to-back qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe to be played in SA, this has taken a burden off the shoulders of the Bafana Bafana overseas players who reported late for camp.

This is according to coach Molefi Ntseki as Bafana host Sao Tome at Moses Mabhida Stadium tonight before meeting again at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, where they will officially be the away side on Monday.

Ntseki’s charges are going into these two games placed second in their qualifying Group C with three points, and a victory tonight and on Monday will put them one foot in Afcon 2022 in Cameroon.

Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu arrived in the country only on Wednesday night from Scotland, while Kamohelo Mokotjo also arrived late from the US.

Ntseki feels his players will benefit from playing both matches at home rather than flying to Sao Tome.

“We are used to the conditions in this country. Even those who are playing overseas come from this country. They played their football in our country, so they are more used to the conditions than those of Sao Tome,” Ntseki told the media in Durban.

“When I was looking at players who are coming in from Europe, the benefit for us as Bafana Bafana is the traveling period that those players were going to experience.

“If Kamohelo Mokotjo were to fly from America to SA for about 16 hours, and then had to fly to Sao Tome for eight hours, then back from Sao Tome to SA and from SA to America, if my mathematics is working very well, you are talking about more than 50 hours.

"And then, when this player gets back to his club, it means he will be finished in terms of readiness and mental readiness to compete in the starting eleven. To play to win matches for his team.

“That part of it is going to benefit our players, and that on its own is a plus for us. Every game you play in the national team is important. It doesn’t matter where you play.”

Following disappointing results against Namibia [1-1] draw and Zambia [2-1] defeat in friendly matches last month, Ntseki is aware that they cannot afford to drop points in both matches at home now.

“We are fully aware of the challenges that come with this match. We are playing Sao Tome, a difficult team, but all that is important is for us to get maximum points in the two matches,” Ntseki said.

“I think we’ve prepared well mentally, physically, and tactically. We would be able to execute the plan on match day. Another plan will come out for the match on Monday.

“We are very positive going into this match to say the country comes first, and if we all say the country comes first, it means we will go out there and do well for the country.”

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