Bafana warned of Polish speed
BEVAN Fransman is a rarity in the current Bafana Bafana squad in that he's played in Warsaw at the National Stadium, the venue of Friday's friendly international against Poland.
The central defender, whose form this season for Supersport United saw him earn a recall to the national squad for last month's friendlies against Brazil and Mozambique, played in Warsaw with Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv. He warned Bafana to expect a physical, fast game against the Poles.
"Last year I played against Legia Warsaw at the National Stadium. It was a tough game, quite cold temperatures. They were definitely physical and the play was very fast. And their passing game was fantastic on the night," Fransman said.
"I'm sure one or two of Legia's players are in the national team, plus Poland have added their big names.
"You can see Robert Lewandowski doing his thing for Borussia Dortmund, so it's definitely not going to be an easy night out against him. It's going to be a tough game, but I think we can also bring something to the table."
Fransman clearly matured as a player from his four years spent in Israel, but he says a return home has also helped bolster his game.
"I left aged 23, a little bit erratic. I thought I was walking on gold and didn't care what anyone told me. I've learnt a few things, a few lessons here and there.
"And I'm enjoying my football more now that I'm back home, which helps you play your best."
He says European football, especially in the smaller leagues, is not quite the Holy Grail it used to be. Fransman is behind Siyabonga Sangweni and Bongani Khumalo in the pecking order for Friday's friendly, but says the competition among himself, the two frontline centre-backs and Kaizer Chiefs' Eric Mathoho can be one of Bafana's strengths come the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in January.
In-form Kaizer Chiefs striker Bernard Parker is another Bafana player with experience against the Poles. He scored the winner in Bafana's 1-0 friendly win at Orlando stadium in the build-up to the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Parker has scored seven goals in seven games for Chiefs at the start of the Absa Premiership season, and both goals for Bafana in the 2-0 win against Mozambique. He says he's ready to be South Africa's No1 striker come the Nations Cup - particularly with the uncertainty over Katlego Mphela's fitness.
"In the last game against Mozambique I played as a spearhead striker and I think I showed the coach I can play in that position," Parker said.