Pienaar happy to be back in Bafana colours

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pretoria - Bafana Bafana skipper Steven Pienaar is excited to be back in the national team after spending a few months on the side-lines due to an injury.

"It's a pleasure to be back and I am looking forward to the match. It was very sad when I missed so many games and I hope to put the disappointment behind me.

"It was frustrating times for me and not being able to contribute to the team left me feeling helpless on the side-lines, but I had to make a decision regarding the operation. I had to solve my problem, so I am just happy to be back and smiling again," said Pienaar.

The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder hasn't played for South Africa since March when Bafana registered their historic 1-nil victory over Egypt in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Ellis Park Stadium.

He travelled with the squad for the return leg in Cairo, but could not play after failing to recover from an injury he sustained on the eve of departure to Egypt.

Pienaar will be leading Bafana when they face Cote d'Ivoire in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Kick-off is at 3:15pm.

He is well aware of what to expect in Saturday's clash against the Elephants.

"We have a lot of youngsters in the squad but we know we can mix it with the best in the business. Though it's going to be a tough match, we must make the best of it.

"Our challenge in not scoring goals has been in the final third because we create a lot of chances but make the wrong decisions. With time it will get better.

"Also it was very disappointing not to qualify for Afcon but we need to forget about what happened in the past and move on."

Turkey-based striker Bradley Grobler said: "It's going to be an exciting match between two quality teams that believe in attacking football, and this is one match we have to win for South Africa.

"It could have been good to play against a top striker like Didier Drogba as I have great confidence in our defence, which would have taken him on. As for me, it's always been a dream to play for my country and given a chance I will definitely do my best."

Bafana defender Anele Ngcongca is optimistic about the team's prospects ahead of the match: "We are facing a team that possesses big name players and we know it won't be an easy match, but a win will be very important for us to forget about the past. We are confident we can do it."

No-nonsense defender Morgan Gould said: "This is a very important match as it will be played for a good cause. It's not only about football but also about humanity - helping those less fortunate than us.

"On the match itself, we have a good defensive record and I can attribute that to the whole team because we play as a unit.

"We are going up against a very good team and that is a great thing as we will be testing ourselves against the best. I believe we are up to the task."

The visitors are expected to arrive in the country today.

Tickets are still available around the country at Computicket, Shoprite and Shoprite/Checkers stores.

Tickets are selling at R100 for the west lower stand and R50 for all the other areas. No tickets will be sold on match day.