A late goal by Thuso Phala in the second half against Zambia ensured Bafana Bafana maintained their unbeaten run of eight matches since head coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba took over the reigns of the national team.
South African and Chipolopolo met in an international friendly match on Sunday, 4 January 2015 at Orlando Stadium.
“We mustn’t drown in these kinds of achievements. We have to put it behind our backs, look forward and aim for more because if we dwell on the past it will cause us problems. It is a good record but it’s all in the past. We have to now work hard and win the AFCON tournament, then we can start dreaming of the World Cup. We have set standards for ourselves, we have given the impression that we can make it all the way to the top and we can only achieve that by winning games,” said Mashaba.
Both South Africa and Zambia were using the match to prepare for the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015 tournament which starts later this month (17 January to 8 February 2015).
Led by the Chief Executive Officer of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Dennis Mumble, Bafana Bafana were congratulated in their dressing room by several members of the National Executive Committee (NEC).
“Zambia played very well because all their players wanted to impress the coach and make the final team to the tournament, to take them lightly will be very dangerous because the score was not a true reflection of the match, they did very well. They showed character,” added Mashaba.
“Fatigue was starting to take its toll on our players in the last 10 minutes or so, with the defence complaining about muscles. But we are happy we managed to get that goal, and this was a perfect sendoff for the team. It was a good thing to put a smile on the faces of the fans.
“The win has helped us keep our momentum of doing well. Thanks to our fans as we get ready to jet out of the country and we will appreciate their support in whichever way. To the media thanks for the publicity as it has made us stronger and brought us more support. Again we say we are going to Equatorial Guinea to compete.”
But the Bafana Bafana mentor believes hard work lies ahead as they approach the tournament.
“The level of fitness of some of our players is questionable as we know that most of them last played in the third week of December and with players taking a break of a about a week can be too long and for them to come back takes time. But thanks to the training programme ahead we will sort that out and should be ready for the tournament.
“I can safely say the whole team needs a wakeup call because we are not very sharp. There is also the self-evaluation of the players, which is normal but very dangerous. Some players still don’t believe they are in the team but with time they will give us what we need because we believe in them,” concluded Mashaba.
Captain of the day, defender Anele Ngcongca, was also elated with the victory.
“We knew it was not going to be an easy game, we expected them to come at us early on and we gave them too much room to play. But we rectified that at halftime and second half we were back in the game and improved a lot. Overall it was a good performance from the players; we wanted to give the public something to cheer about as we are heading to AFCON 2015.
“I would also like to echo the coach’s sentiments and say thank you to all the fans who have been behind us up to this point because they give the energy to do well. We have confidence that we will come back with positive results because for the players every time you get a call up you want to represent your country and it is always an honour to do so. We will work hard and do our best in Equatorial Guinea,” said Ngcongca.
The match also the return of Phala and Bernard Parker in Bafana Bafana colours after a long absence.
Phala’s last match was a goalless draw against New Zealand in Auckland in June last year, while Parker last made a national team appearance in the 5-nil loss in the hands of Brazil in March.
Bafana Bafana’s are expected to depart for Gabon on Wednesday, 7 January where they will play Cameroon three days later (Sunday, 10 January) in Libreville which is part of preparations for AFCON 2015.