It will be the first time that Bafana Bafana faces the East African Nation in an official international. ‘The Black Lions’ may be the lowest ranked team in the group (138th on FIFA’s last release of world rankings), but they are former giants of the African game, having won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1962 and appeared in 10 tournaments overall.
"Ethiopia is a very and stubborn team that doesn’t give up and give in to pressure," said South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane when naming his squad earlier this month.
"They have a very quick team up front and a very compact in defence, but we think we have the ammunition and the players to unlock this ultra-defensive approach.
"We have played against such defences against the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone recently and we managed to unlock them at particular times.
"We hope the experience of those two matches will help to us unlock the Ethiopian defence.
"It is important to win the game at all costs – at this point in time the key is to win the game and not focus on playing very well. The country deserves a win," concluded Mosimane.
Bafana will look to the recalled Siyabonga Nomvethe to be a source of inspiration. The veteran striker was the Absa Premiership’s leading goal scorer in the recently-completed season with 20 strikes and he also took home all the major prizes at the PSL awards on Sunday night.
‘Bhele’ believes it is vital that Bafana get off to a positive start in the qualifiers against Ethiopia before heading to Botswana the following week for the next match.
"We are playing at home in the first match, the second we are away, so we have to fight for all six points in both matches. It is important that we start with a win," said Nomvethe, who said he does not feel the pressure of expectation after his excellent season with Moroka Swallows.
"Football is all about teamwork so I will not put pressure on myself. I will do my best to help the team do well, but everyone has to come on board. I just have to continue working as hard as I have been doing and things will work out well," added Nomvethe.
Bafana Bafana squad
Goalkeepers: Darren Keet (KV Kortijk, Belgium), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns).
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa (Kaizer Chiefs), Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Bongani Khumalo (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Punch Masenamela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tsepo Masilela (Getafe, Spain), Eric Mathoho (Bloemfontein Celtic), Anele Ngcongca (Genk, Belgium), Siyabonga Sangweni (Orlando Pirates).
Midfielders: Andile Jali (Orlando Pirates), Thaduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), May Mahlangu (Helsingborgs, Sweden), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Mzikayise Mashaba (Free State Stars), Teko Modise (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebohang Mokoena (Mamelodi Sundowns), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs).
Strikers: Lehlohonolo Majoro (Kaizer Chiefs), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows), Tokelo Rantie (Orlando Pirates).
This 2011/12 Bafana Bafana Media Kit by BackpageTxt.
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