Bafana Bafana midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala believes the first match of the CHAN 2014 soccer tournament is going to be vital to assess the team’s chances of success.
The dreadlocked left-footed player was speaking to the media on Wednesday shortly after the national team’s training session in Pinelands.
Bafana Bafana are in camp in preparation for the upcoming Orange CAF African Nations where they will face Mozambique in the opening match of the tournament on Saturday.
The match takes place at the Cape Town Stadium ÔÇô the venue for the opening and closing ceremony and kick-off is at 6pm.
ÔÇ£Every match we play is important but the first game is very crucial because it is always good to start the tournament on a high. A win sets a very nice tone for the rest of the competition. It is good for the team’s morale and for the fans,ÔÇØ said Tshabalala.
The Kaizer Chiefs midfielder is most capped player in the squad with 85 caps to his belt. He has played in the World Cup, the Confederations Cup as well as an Africa Cup of Nations. This will be his first CHAN tournament.
ÔÇ£The stakes and the expectations are high for us to do well. I believe we are ready after days of hard work and will continue doing so in the remaining two days. I am positive that the 11 players that will be selected to do the job on Saturday will succeed,ÔÇØ added Tshabalala.
ÔÇ£As for me, it is always an honour to wear the national team jersey. I am grateful that I have been given another chance to represent my country and I have always vowed that I will do my best whenever I am selected. This is a very important tournament and it would be nice to win it, but we have to take one game at a time.ÔÇØ
Striker, Katlego Mashego, echoed his sentiments. ÔÇ£We want to do well in every game we play. We are raring to go. We know what we have to do and we are well aware how important the first match is. We have to start with a bang,ÔÇØ said Mashego.