Bafana Bafana will fancy their chances of securing wins in home and away World Cup qualifying fixtures against a Cape Verde outfit ranked 114th in the world and which failed to qualify for the 2017 African Cup of Nations.
Cape Verde have lost their first two games – 2-0 away against Senegal and by the same scoreline at home against Burkina Faso – and find themselves rooted to the bottom of the qualifying group. South Africa, on the other hand, drew 1-1 against Burkina Faso away, then beat Senegal 2-1 at home, and are second to the Burkinabe on goal difference.
However, Bafana can’t afford to take anything for granted against the hosts at the 15 000-seater Estadio Nacional de Cabo Verde on Friday night‚ or in the return leg in Durban on Tuesday, if they want to realise their ambitions of appearing in the global spectacle in Russia in 2018. If they fail to take all three points against Cape Verde, they will have to face cliff-hangers at home against Burkina Faso on 7 October and in Senegal on 11 November.
The men in green and gold are missing two key players through injury – defender Rivaldo Coetzee and influential midfielder Thalami Serrero – and will need to employ a fast short-passing game on a poor astroturf surface.
‘‘My father said to me: ‘Always beware the man who has nothing to lose.’ So they have nothing to lose. We have got to go there with the same attitude. They can play the way they want. If we play well then I think we’ve got a chance of getting a good result. So we’ve got to make sure that our mentality is tight,” said coach Stuart Baxter.
There was support for Bafana from an unexpected quarter. Shakes Mashaba, who was dismissed from the managerial hotseat for gross misconduct, insubordination and violating his employer’s communications policy last year, has backed the boys to come good in the island off the West coast of Africa and delight their legion of ardent fans.