After a year that was marred by failure to qualify for the 2012 Afcon finals – which also saw the Under-20 and Under-23 junior national teams flop in major tournaments – Bafana players have their eye on a steady rise.
They are yet to win a game in seven matches, Bafana’s last victory coming against Burkina Faso in August.
That slippery slope led them to 58th place in the Fifa rankings and 10th in Africa.
The match, to be played here in front of an expected capacity crowd, is the first of many the senior men’s team will be involved in in an attempt to redeem themselves this year.
Bafana took on Equatorial Guinea, Zambia and Ghana last month, but key players were missing in those encounters.
Safa even “downgraded” them at the request of Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane to spare the team the embarrassment as defeats would plunge them down the rankings.
All the matches ended in draws, with Bafana pulling off some impressive stalemates, particularly in the games against Zambia and Ghana.
Now Mosimane has a strong squad to pick from against Senegal tonight even though Siphiwe Tshabalala and his Kaizer Chiefs teammate Reneilwe Letsholonyane are out injured.
Morgan Gould, Itumeleng Khune and new boy May Mahlangu all agree that the match against “powerful” Senegal could mark new beginnings ahead of the 2014 Brazil World Cup qualifiers.
The opening qualifier is against Ethiopia on June 1 in South Africa. Botswana and Central African Republic complete Bafana’s group.
Bafana are also preparing for next year’s Nations Cup, which they have qualified for as hosts.
“Senegal are a wounded lion and, just like us, are looking to bounce back. It’s a good time to play them because they will give us a stern challenge,” said defender Gould.
And then followed the heavy statement: “This is a very important game.”
Khune backed up his teammate, almost declaring war on the Teranga Lions, who were booted out of the group stages at the Nations Cup, having failed to win a single game.
“We are looking for a win, it’s not good for the country that we have been drawing. We need to bounce back and there’s no better way to do it than at home in front of a full house,” said the goalkeeper.
Mahlangu is new to the Bafana fold, but he hasn’t been ignorant of what happened last year.
“Hopefully we will start winning,” the midfielder said.
Meanwhile, the memorial service of Molefe Shoes Makati, Orlando Pirates staff member will be held today at the Touchdown Restaurant.
Memorial Service Details:
Date: Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Time: 12h: 00 – 14h: 30
Venue: Touchdown Restaurant
Entrance is corner of South Park Lane and Ove Street