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Bafana not taking Libya lightly

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Given an opportunity, Hlanti and Ndlovu will be hoping to emulate these greats

Lyle Foster

KwaZulu-Natal duo Sifiso Hlanti and Siphelele Ndlovu have endured some painful moments during their time with Bafana Bafana. It has been a story of missed opportunities for the KZN pair.

Now the duo are again part of the Bafana squad that will this time face Libya at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday in a crucial Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier.

Hlanti knows what this game means, when Bafana failed to book themselves a spot at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he had watched the biggest showpiece on earth on television.

“It was painful to miss out on the World Cup. It is everybody’s dream to play in a competition of that magnitude. The country was going to benefit massively. It wasn’t easy to watch the World Cup on television knowing we had an opportunity to go there. It was going to open a lot of doors for us as players.

“It is up to us to respond positively after that setback. We have to make the nation proud by qualifying for the Afcon,” a determined Hlanti said.

The flamboyant left-back has vowed to make it count this time around. He is hungry to represent his country in a major tournament for the first time in his career.

”We started very well beating Nigeria away from home. We have to build on that. We mustn’t be over-confident. There are no easy tasks in football. We will follow the coach’s plan. We won’t worry too much about our opponents We will work hard together to get a positive result.”

Ndlovu, meanwhile, was part of the Bafana Bafana team that was embarrassed by Madagascar in the Cosafa Cup quarter-finals, and he too is under no illusion about the magnitude of the task at hand.

“It will be a great moment if we do qualify for the Afcon. But it will take a lot of effort from us. We need to change the history and bring back those glory days. It is going to be very demanding. We will be focused and we will do whatever it takes to qualify,” Ndlovu said.

In the past, KZN has produced some big name stars who went on to achieve big things with the national team. Players such as Helman Mkhalele, the late Sizwe Motaung, Siyabonga Nomvethe, Sibusiso Zuma, Delron Buckley, Mbulelo Mabizela and Siboniso Gaxa have all done well in the national team jersey.

Given an opportunity, Hlanti and Ndlovu will be hoping to emulate these greats.

“The expectations are huge after we beat Nigeria. So we have to stay focused and calm. We will try and do what is possible on the day. The country is expecting us to win and we’ll put an extra effort to achieve that,” he said.

“We won’t take Libya for granted. We will stand tall,” Ndlovu added.