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Thu Apr 24 05:50:49 SAST 2014

Nunes enjoying life with Bafana

MARC STRYDOM in Warsaw | 11 October, 2012 06:520 Comments
Ricardo Nunes
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"IT WAS nice, man - it was a good feeling for me to use the jersey for the first time," Bafana Bafana left-back Ricardo Nunes said of his training session yesterday ahead of tomorrow's friendly against Poland.

It took one crisply struck pass curled down the touchline to release Siphiwe Tshabalala on a run to draw a "whoo" from the watching South African press corps.

Certainly, on the evidence of one practice session, Nunes does appear to have the sweet left foot coach Gordon Igesund was raving about from DVD evidence.

"All my coaches who know me, know me like that. That I have a skilful left foot and I like to go up, to make some combinations and put in some crosses," Nunes said.

"Because I play in a big team in Slovakia it gives me a lot of chances to get forward. Most of the teams play a closed game against us, and my role is to add to the attack - always taking care of my defensive obligations."

Nunes, 26, a player uncovered by Igesund as eligible for Bafana, having spent his first eight years in South Africa, plays for MSK Zilina in Slovakia, who have won seven of the country's past 10 league titles.

It's been an unexpected but pleasant turn of events for the 26-year-old to find himself on a training pitch for the country of his birth.

"I'm very happy to be called up," he said. "Did I see it coming? No, not really. I was working well and playing well at my clubs, but I didn't know my prospects would be playing for South Africa.

"The fact that people in South Africa were paying attention and noticing what I was doing made me very happy and satisfied.

"Everybody's received me very well. They've been very good with me and tried to bring me into the group by joking with me. It will take some time to learn all the names."

Nunes said Polish football was similar in style to fellow Eastern Europeans Slovakia.

"There's also many Slovak players here in Poland. It's more or less the same football - physical and direct. They have good, skilful players and at the back they try to mark hard."

He has had something of a journeyman career, playing for clubs including Cypriot sides AEP, Aris Limassol and Olympiakos Nikosia, and Portuguese team Portimonense.

He believes the direct game plan Igesund wants to instil in Bafana will suit his style well.

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