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Shakes wants ‘more of the same’

With Costa Rica done and dusted, Shakes Mashaba has expressed his desire for more of the same from Bafana Bafana going forward.
South Africa’s senior national team chalked up a second win over the highly-rated Central American side yesterday when Bafana beat Los Ticos 1-0 courtesy of a well-taken goal by Andile Jali in San José.
Back in 2003, Mashaba was in charge when goals by Siyabonga Nomvethe and Patrick Mayo ensured a 2-1 Nelson Mandela Challenge win over Costa Rica in Potchefstroom.
Yesterday’s win was particularly impressive, given that the current Costa Rica side are fresh from a fantastic World Cup show where they reached the quarter-finals.
It was no wonder Mashaba was beaming as he waxed lyrical about his boys after the match.
“It is good to develop a winning culture ahead of meetings with Angola (in the World Cup qualifiers) and next year’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers,” Mashaba said at the post-match conference.
“The boys showed they can mix it with the best in the world when their backs are against the wall.
“I thought we really took total control of the game in the first half and we were full value taking the lead going to the break.”
Bafana scored on nine minutes via Jali, a beauty of a goal that saw the midfielder intercept a Costa Rica pass before playing a one-two with Thulani Serero, then force his way through two defenders and deftly dink the ball over the advancing Keylor Navas – the Real Madrid goalkeeper.
Having scored so early against a quality side that had taken the initiative, it was always going to be a tall order for Bafana to hold on to the end. They achieved that and could have scored a few more, Serero once sending the ball over from a good scoring position and then denied by Navas from close range.
Yet with no ball winner in midfield to stop the Costa Rica attacks at their inception, pressure was continuously brought to bear on the defence who repeatedly had to make last-ditch clearances.
Against much better opposition such a weakness will be exploited, but Mashaba was impressed, that shortfall notwithstanding.
“The defence was watertight and the midfielders played like a well-oiled machine in the first 45 minutes. And what can I say about goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune; despite suffering a recurring hamstring injury, he marshalled his defence with aplomb.”
And the coach would like more of the same in future.
“This is the spirit this team must carry going forward into the World Cup qualifiers and the Africa Cup of Nations,” said Mashaba
“I now want to go to Honduras and finish the good job we started here.”
With Honduras nowhere near Costa Rica in quality and ranking, logic dictates that Bafana should win fairly easily on Wednesday.
But they will do well to add a defensive touch to their slick midfield that knocked the ball about purposefully and impressively.
Most importantly, though, they will have to translate their fantastic friendly showing into competitive matches – Bafana generally good at such “meaningless” matches but disappointing in the ones that matter. - Saturday Star


Staff writter

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