Bafana coach looks to exorcise Nelspruit debacle
PITSO Mosimane gets a chance to redeem himself on Sunday.
The Bafana coach can find redemption for last year's Nations Cup debacle in Nelspruit in the World Cup qualifier at Royal Bafokeng against Ethiopia.
At Mbombela, Mosimane and his technical team misread the rules and South Africa's goalless draw eliminated Bafana from the Nations Cup rather than qualifying them, as the coach had believed.
Victory on Sunday, and again six days later against Botswana in Gaborone in the second 2014 World Cup qualifier, will not only take some pressure off Mosimane - but it will help shift the Mbombela mess-up further into the background.
Mosimane believes the process has already started.
"We have dealt with the past [not qualifying for the Nations Cup] and have our focus back in the team," said the coach.
"From when I signed the papers to coach this team I knew what I was getting myself into. It's part of the package.
"To win the two games is crucial for us on the road to Brazil 2014."
So how will the coach avoid another failed attempt at qualifying for a major tournament?
"We have to win all our home games. There's no real formula, but in a group format, you have to finish as No1 to qualify. We planned it well for the Nations Cup and had unexpected results against Egypt [beating them at home and drawing away], but it was Niger who went through," Mosimane said.
He has challenges ahead of Sunday's match. The injury to key defender Siyabonga Sangweni is the biggest obstacle after the Orlando Pirates man was ruled out of the two World Cup qualifiers.
Lack of goals and a winless streak that has stretched back nine months is another stumbling block for the Bafana coach.
"We need everyone to come to the party and convert the chances. The responsibility does not just fall on Bhele [Siyabonga Nomvethe] and Katlego Mphela. Steven Pienaar has also now just been doing it for his club [Everton] and his game has changed slightly and that is positive for us," said Mosimane.
The coach had also been counting on Sangweni to contribute to the team's attack, having scored six goals this season.
Apart from the defender being sent home and Thulani Serero having to leave camp to be with his family after the death of his father, Mosimane has shielded the rest of the squad from the Moeneeb Josephs saga to maintain unity.
Josephs asked to be withdrawn from the 27-man squad and not to be considered for future call-ups.
This, as well as playing the first crucial match since the Nelspruit debacle, could put the team under much anxiety, said Mosimane.
"If you are overwhelmed by those feelings, then you often don't make the right decision," said the coach. "We played a friendly warm-up game and scored goals. But we also missed a lot of chances."