Mosimane: Burkina Faso a major challenge
Sceptical South Africans get a chance to see why Burkina Faso are ranked fourth on the continent when the countries clash in a friendly at Ellis Park on Wednesday.
Coach Pitso Mosimane took time out from talking about seventh-ranked Bafana Bafana to warn that the Stallions are "not a mickey mouse team and pose a serious threat."
He went on to say: "Burkina Faso boast professionals based in France, Portugal, Russia and Turkey and we chose them because they have the same mentality and body shape as our next Africa Cup of Nations opponents Niger. When you meet these big guys from the west of the continent you know that set pieces are going to be an important factor and teams who do not excel in that department get punished," stressed the former national team striker.
The match offers South Africa a last chance to iron out any chinks in the armoury before flying to Niamey for a showdown with Niger in a crucial CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier next month. Burkina Faso are in a mini-league reduced to three teams by the withdrawal of Mauritania and must wait until October for their final fixture away to Gambia in Banjul. Both countries are table toppers and on course to compete at the 2012 African football showcase in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Absentees a blow for Bafana
Injuries tend to disrupt friendly fixtures and so it has proven again with midfielders Steven Pienaar and Reneilwe Letsholonyane definite non-starters for South Africa and right-back Anele Ngcongca almost certainly out. Daylon Claasen and Oupa Manyisa have been drafted in while there is plenty of cover for Ngcongca with experienced international Siboniso Gaxa and rising star Andile Jali included in the original squad.
Although Manyisa of reigning league champions Orlando Pirates has received rave reviews from former Dutch stars Ruud Krol and Ruud Gullit, Mosimane stressed that competition for 'engine-room' places is tight. The coach is more concerned about left-back with no obvious understudy to club-less Tsepo Masilela and uncapped Tebogo Langerman from former champions SuperSport United could get a chance to impress.
Striker Alain Traore from French club Auxerre will require special attention having scored four of the 11 Burkinabe goals in three Cup of Nations qualifiers, including a hat-trick against Namibia in Ouagadougou. This is the first friendly between the countries, who have clashed five times in the FIFA World Cup™ and Cup of Nations with Bafana winning twice and the Stallions once.