South Africa’s AFCON winning goalkeeper Andre Arendse who is part of the Technical bench urged the team not to lose focus but to fully concentrate on the job at hand as Bafana Bafana prepare for another tie with Seychelles at Stade Linite in the Indian Ocean Island tomorrow.
Following a 6-0 rout of the hapless Islanders, South Africa bundled previous leaders Libya from the summit with seven points followed by Nigeria on six, after the Super Eagles had also thrashed the Mediterranean Knights 4-0 in Uyo on the same day.
Another victory over Seychelles will take South Africa’s haul of points to 10 while Nigeria, should they also triumph over Libya in Sfax, Tunisia also on Tuesday, will keep the heat on their southern African rivals with nine points before their titanic clash at FNB Stadium in December would decide who qualifies.
But the Islanders are not going to be pushovers in their own backyards and it therefore needs the team to forget their historic rout and throw complacency out of the window then focus on putting the foot on the pedal once more and never let go until the final whistle.
But there had been a lot of surprises in this 2019 qualifying campaign with Kenya, who held Ethiopia to a goalless draw in Addis Ababa and then thrashed them 3-0 in Nairobi, almost guaranteed qualification from Group F due to uncertainty surrounding Sierra Leone who has been suspended by FIFA.
Madagascar, consisting of several players plying their trades in Europe, are the biggest surprise as they share top spot with Senegal after beating Equatorial Guinea 1-0 in Praia, thanks to Faneva Andriatsima’s early strike should be favoured to repeat the feat at home on Tuesday which should all but guarantee them qualification for the first time in their history.
“We have not conceded a goal in three matches,” said Arendse. “Players like myself, Shaun Bartlett, Aaron Mokoena have qualified for the AFCON before and we know what it takes as well as how to qualify for these major continental competitions.
“We have the skills and the ability aplenty in South Africa. We just have to take this talent and nurture it, work on it and play a guiding role. Aside from coaching the game in various departments, we must guide these players and keep their minds on track,” added Arendse.
“We have learnt many lessons from that sad occasion and there will be no recurrence,” interim Malagasy football chief Doda Andriamiasasoa told AFP on Monday following that stampede prior to the match against Senegal at the Mahamasina Stadium in Antananarivo last month.
One spectator died and more than 40 others were seriously injured due to poor gate control and as a result, Madagascar has been banned from playing their matches in Antananarivo.
Algeria, Zimbabwe, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Egypt and Uganda are other countries who could clinch qualification with two matches to spare if they win tomorrow.
Should Zimbabwe overcome the Democratic Republic of Congo again, this time in Harare, they will qualify if Liberia and Congo Brazzaville draw the other Group G match in Paynesville.
Zimbabwe will no doubt miss the excellent Knowledge Musona after the former Kaizer Chiefs hitman was sent off for a second bookable offence, but not before he had conjured up a sensational winning goal in Kinshasa, stealing the ball from a defender and then coolly rounding the goalkeeper before scoring the second and winning goal.
Yet such has been the confidence displayed by the Warriors that even without Musona, both Khama Billiat and Evans Rusike have displayed brilliant form to indicate that they could be a handful for the Leopards at the National Stadium tomorrow.
For Uganda to secure a second successive qualification, they must defeat Lesotho in Maseru and hope Tanzania do not take maximum points off Cape Verde in Dar es Salaam also tomorrow.