Underestimate us at your peril, Phala warns Afcon opponents

first_img8 December 2015Bafana Bafana have arrived in Gabon to continue their preparations ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), Africa’s most prestigious sporting event, which takes place in Equatorial Guinea from 17 January 17 to 8 February.The South Africans’ preparations for the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015 tournament, include a warm-up match against Cameroon on Saturday, 10 January, in Libreville.There is also another warm-up against hosts Gabon on the cards, the South African Football Association (Safa) said in a statement on Wednesday.‘Winning mentality’At a press conference ahead of the team’s departure, Safa president Danny Jordaan praised coach Shakes Mashaba for instilling a winning mentality in Bafana Bafana, KickOff magazine reported.“Previously we used to fight for draws in away matches. Shakes has changed that thinking,” Jordaan said.He said 2015 was lining up to be a very challenging year. “We currently have three teams in camp. I can’t remember the last time this happened in South Africa.“Equatorial Guinea is not the end of the road, it is the beginning of the road. We are in a group where only the best are.”Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula urged the team to make the country proud.“The players have come of age. This is a special moment for South Africa. We’re going to Afcon as competitors.“You have restored the pride and glory of the nation. If you win Afcon, it will be a glorious moment.“Go there and make South Africa proud. Our flag and national anthem will be restored among those nations.”‘Favourites’In an interview with Safa on Wednesday, Bafana Bafana winger Thuso Phala said anyone underestimating South Africa would be doing so “at their own peril”.Phala has returned to the national team, having played his last match in March last year against New Zealand in Auckland. Phala, who has been capped 14 times, scored his first international goal last Sunday, 4 January, helping Bafana Bafana to defeat Zambia.“I don’t think we can be seen as underdogs,” Phala said. “Going to the tournament most countries will be more prepared for us because perhaps they have been watching our tapes during the qualifiers … but if the other countries want to see us as underdogs, it will be to their disadvantage.“With the players we have, we booked our place in Equatorial Guinea with a game remaining,” the winger said. “I see us as one of the favourites in our group.”Phala said he believed the most difficult part of the competition was to qualify for the knockout stages. “But once you are through there, it’s anybody’s game.”He said this year the team’s focus will be on qualifying for the next round – “and then we could go all the way”.FULL BAFANA SQUADGoalkeepers: Brilliant Khuzwayo, Darren Keet, Jackson MabokgwaneDefenders: Siyabonga Nhlapo, Patrick Phungwayo, Anele Ngcongca, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Mulomowandau Mathoho, Rivaldo Coetzee, Thabo MatlabaMidfielders: Themba Zwane, Andile Jali, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Bongani Zungu, Thamsanqa Sangweni, Dean Furman, Thuso Phala, Mandla Masango, Oupa ManyisaStrikers: Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie, Bongani Ndulula, Sibusiso VilakaziGROUP C FIXTURESJanuary 19 – South Africa v Algeria – Estadio de Mongomo: 9pmJanuary 23 – Senegal v South Africa – Estadio de Mongomo: 9pmJanuary 27 – Ghana v South Africa – Estadio de Mongomo: 8pmAFCON 2015 FIXTURESAll times CAT (SA, GMT+2)Saturday 17 January 2015Equatorial Guinea v Congo – Estadio de Bata: 6pmBurkina Faso v Gabon – Estadio de Bata: 9pmSunday 18 January 2015Zambia v Congo DR – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 6pmTunisia v Cape Verde Islands – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 9pmMonday 19 January 2015Ghana v Senegal – Estadio de Mongomo: 6pmAlgeria v South Africa – Estadio de Mongomo: 9pmTuesday 20 January 2015Cote d’Ivoire v Guinea – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 6pmMali v Cameroon – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 9pmWednesday 21 January 2015Equatorial Guinea v Burkina Faso – Estadio de Bata: 6pmThursday 22 January 2015Zambia v Tunisia – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 6pmCape Verde Islands v Congo DR – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 9pmFriday 23 January 2015Ghana v Algeria – Estadio de Mongomo: 6pmSouth Africa v Senegal – Estadio de Mongomo: 9pmSaturday 24 January 2015Cote d’Ivoire v Mali – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 6pmSunday 25 January 2015Gabon v Equatorial Guinea – Estadio de Bata: 8pmCongo v Burkina Faso – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 8pmMonday 26 January 2015Cape Verde Islands v Zambia – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 8pmCongo DR v Tunisia – Estadio de Bata: 8pmTuesday 27 January 2015South Africa v Ghana – Estadio de Mongomo: 8pmSenegal v Algeria – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 8pmWednesday 28 January 2015Guinea v Mali – Estadio de Mongomo: 8pmCameroon v Cote d’Ivoire – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 8pmSaturday 31 January 2015Group A Winner v Group B Second Place – Estadio de Bata: 6pmGroup B Winner v Group A Second Place – Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin: 9pmSunday 1 February 2015Group C Winner v Group D Second Place – Estadio de Mongomo: 6pmGroup D Winner v Group C Second Place – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 9pmWednesday 4 February 2015Quarterfinal 1 Winner v Quarterfinal 4 Winner – Estadio de Bata: 9pmThursday 05 February 2015Quarterfinal 2 Winner v Quarterfinal 3 Winner – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 9pmSaturday 07 February 2015Semifinal 1 Loser v Semifinal 2 Loser – Nuevo Estadio de Malabo: 8pmSunday 08 February 2015Semifinal 1 Winner v Semifinal 2 Winner – Estadio de Bata: 9pmSAinfo reporterlast_img

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