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Soccer

Hlatshwayo ready to redeem the nation’ pride against Mauritania

The Red-hot Bidvest Wits and Bafana Bafana defender Thulani Hlatshwayo says they have to reverse the loss they suffered at the hands of Mauritania back in September last year in the 2017 Gabon African Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Bafana are in third position in Group M with six points going into the last game, behind leaders Cameroon (11 points) and Mauritania (seven points).

Bafana’s upcoming game against Mauritania is scheduled to take place at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on 2 September.

Kickoff is at 19h05.

Hlatshwayo says even though the match will have no bearing on the qualification for the Gabon showpiece, there is still a lot at stake.

“It’s about pride for the country, and as the coach has been saying there are no friendly games when you play for South Africa. We will make sure we play to the best of our abilities to win the match because to be called up to the national team is an honour. We will play as though when we win we will qualify for the tournament, that’s how important it is to us,” said Hlatshwayo.

The tough defender comes into the match at the back of fine performances for his club where he has scored two goals in as many matches. He says he would like to continue with that form.

“They say you are only as good as your last game, given a chance to play I will use it whenever called upon. We have to get a result more so because we are playing at home. We know that South Africans will come out in numbers to watch to support. I was not part of the first match because of the injury but the coach has told me so much about the game,” added Hlatshwayo.

“They always say a good defender is the one who scores goals, even though we have strikers in the team. At the moment it is just that I am at the right place at the right time and given a chance I will go forward and try to score.”

Hlatshwayo looks likely to be the main man in defence as there will be no Rivaldo Coetzee (illness) and Eric Mathoho (injury) – both were in central defence when Bafana Bafana lost in Mauritania.

“The coach knows that everyone called upon here can do the job, they have the ability to perform, and I know anyone given a chance to play they will do their best so I will also take to the field with a winning mentality when given a chance,” said the Bidvest Wits captain.

Tickets for the match against Mauritania are on sale for R50 all round and can be purchased at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers countrywide.

By Matthews Moraba

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