South Africa are on the brink of sealing a place in the final group stage of CAF World Cup qualification, but head coach Shakes Mashaba does not want to take any risks against Angola on Tuesday.
Bafana Bafana won 3-1 away from home in the first leg on Friday through goals from Tokelo Rantie, Thamsanqa Gabuza and Andile Jali to put them in a commanding position going into Tuesday’s game in Durban.
The winners of the two-legged second round tie will move into the last stage of CAF qualifying, where 20 teams will be split into five groups, with the winners progressing to Russia in 2018.
South Africa will be without the suspended Jali, who was shown a second yellow card for enticing the Angola support during his celebration of converting a controversial late penalty, but Mashaba is unwilling to make any avoidable changes to his line-up despite holding a two-goal lead.
“Jali’s absence means we have to adjust the team a bit and make sure we get someone to get into that position but we are not going to make big changes,” he said.
“Jali does so much work for the team. He defends, he makes us play and we need a player like that for Tuesday in Durban. We will look at the first game again, for our flaws and their strong points.
“We are ready but might make only one or two changes. It is not about giving chances to other players, it is about keeping consistency. The more changes you make, it breaks the momentum.
“We are still under pressure at 3-1, big pressure. Say they score early, it will be 3-2, and then it will be a problem. Had we been three goals or more up it would have been better. We only hope our boys do not lose their heads.”
With Jali already ruled out, South Africa are hopeful defenders Anele Ngcongca (ankle) and Rivaldo Coetzee (wrist) will be passed fit.
Angola boss Romeu Filemon is refusing to give up on the tie, but did admit the first-leg performance and result had come as a major disappointment.
“You have to give credit to South Africa because they were a much smarter team,” he said.
“They were strong and swift and then in the second half they held a low block and set out on the counter-attack.
“The team did not have enough spirit to turn around the score in the first half, because some players were late in their defensive actions and not pressing as they should.
“We had many chances to score but lacked the ability to turn the opportunities into goals. It will be tough but we are refusing to throw in the towel.”