South Africa and Botswana will hope to snatch a spot in the final round of the CAF section of FIFA World Cup qualifying on Saturday.
The pair are currently second and third in Group A respectively, and will need leaders Ethiopia to stumble against rock-bottom Central African Republic in order to reach the third and final qualifying phase.
World Cup 2010 hosts South Africa were expected to stroll through the group, but have struggled, crucially losing 2-1 to Ethiopia in the last round of fixtures in June.
Stanley Tshosane’s Botswana side will need to pull of an unlikely victory in Durban and hope Ethiopia lose in order to progress, but the 56-year-old is confident of their chances.
“The mood in the camp is excellent as we have never been this close to achieving greater things. We are here to win,” he said.
“Yes, Bafana Bafana (South Africa) is a strong side, but that does not intimidate us. We are aware they have had good results in Durban but we will just go there and do our business.”
An Ethiopia draw would open up South Africa’s chances of reaching the knock-out round thanks to their superior goal difference.
Bernard Parker is their leading scorer in qualifying so far with three, but the Kaizer Chiefs man will be desperate to atone for his own-goal that sealed defeat to Ethiopia last time out.
The Boksburg-born player has come into his own recently, grabbing 12 goals in 28 appearances in the South African Premier Soccer League last season.
And he will look for support from Kermit Erasmus, with the Orlando Pirates striker eager to impress after being recalled to the squad for the first time this year.
Botswana have threats up front of their own, though, including promising Platinum Stars’ attacker Mogakolodi Ngele, who notched up 10 goals in 25 games for the side in the PSL last year.
Goals have not historically been high in numbers in the two countries’ previous meetings, with the reverse fixture in June last year ending 1-1.
However, overall South Africa have had the edge over their opponents in the past, winning five of the last seven matches and they will be desperate to add another to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
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