Bafana Bafana forward George Lebese says they have to win Friday’s game as they carry the hopes and aspirations of millions of South Africans.
Lebese and his Bafana Bafana compatriots held their first training session in the scorching heat of Benguela on Wednesday morning, having arrived in the coastal city on Tuesday night.
South Africa will face Angola in Round 2 of the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia qualifiers.
The clash takes place on Friday at Estadio Nacional de Ombaka.
Kickoff is at 4:30pm.
“We are ready, we are focused and we are looking forward to the game. We know what is expected of us and we are also aware that the country is behind us because they know we can do the job. We just have to go out there and put in our best performance,” said Lebese after a gruelling training session.
“It’s a do or die and we know we are carrying the hopes of millions of South Africans hence I said we know what is expected from us. The only promise I can make to South Africans is that we will give it a go and the rest will take care of itself.
Angola and Bafana Bafana meet in the first leg in Benguela, with the second scheduled for Durban on Tuesday, 17 November at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“We are looking to win both games, a draw will be good in the first leg but we want to go for a win in both legs. We know Angola’s style of play and we were able to see glimpses of what to expect during the Chan games. We are preparing very well and the morale is good in the team,” added Lebese.
His sentiments were echoed by Holland-based Kamohelo Mokotjo.
“It’s a very important match for Bafana Bafana because it is a World Cup qualifier – and that for footballers is a very big deal as we get to play in the World Cup if we do qualify, so it is very important and we have to do it together.
“Getting the result will be very key and if we get the lead in this game we need to frustrate them by keeping the ball. But most importantly it is about the result so we can make it easier for ourselves when we get back home. The coach knows what he wants from the players and we also know what to do so it is now time to show it, and I think we are ready,” said Mokotjo.
The midfielder was part of the squad that traveled to the Americas where they defeated Costa Rica 1-0 and drew 1-1 with Honduras.
“We want to carry on with the momentum from the Americas, but this is a different game, different continent, conditions are different, its very hot here, but we have to deal with the situation just for a few days as we need the results.
“I think the boys are refreshed and that’s good for the national team.”
Bafana Bafana are travelling without the injured Itumeleng Khune who suffered a knee injury that prevented him from playing in the past weekend’s Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates.
The Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper reported for national team duty and was assessed by the medical team before being released from the squad.
His teammate Brilliant Khuzwayo was called up as a replacement but pulled out due to family commitments.
Wayne Sandilands of Mamelodi Sundowns has come in the place of Khune to join the two other goalkeepers in the squad – Jackson Mabokgwane and Ronwen Williams.
“There is no need to panic with Khune not being available. We have a good group of goalkeepers to see us through these two games,” said Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba.
Jackson Mabokgwane and Lehlohonolo Nonyane are both suffering from right knee knocks, Erick Mathoho has a calf strain while George Lebese has a hamstring strain.