Kaizer Chiefs defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele has shifted his focus to Bafana Bafana as he eyes the double over Nigeria in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign.
Mphahlele rejoined the national team this week ahead of their crucial Group E clash with The Super Eagles on Saturday at the FNB Stadium.
The 28-year-old is among several core players that have established themselves as regulars in the set-up under coach Staurt Baxter, and has provided a brief update on some of the new faces in camp.
“We have a very strong bond in the changeroom. With some new players coming into the squad, finding such a welcoming camp makes it easier to gel into a winning team,” Mphahlele told Chiefs’ official website.
“It is good that we are playing in front of our supporters. The mood in the camp is positive and all that is left is to execute our plans.
“Yes, this is a must-win [game], but we must play our normal game according to the plan that the coach will give us to master and apply on the day.”
‘Rama’ has seemingly begun to rediscover some form, having recently scored and picked up the man-of-the-match award in their Telkom Knockout quarterfinal victory over SuperSport United, while helping the team keep three consecutive clean sheets.
However, the former junior international right-back is not merely focused on his personal performance as much as he is on that of the entire Bafana team, and what is required from the match.
“It is always about the team, and national pride is at stake. Individual performances only count when they contribute to the team’s success,” he added.
“I am looking forward to be part of the Bafana Bafana team that will make history of back-to-back wins over Nigeria.
“That we have beaten them before [in June last year] will not count on the day. Nigeria are always a hard nut to crack. They have good players with experience.”
Following a disappointing goalless draw away to whipping boys Seychelles last month, Bafana are currently in second place in the pool – on eight points from four games.
Nigeria are one ahead on nine points while third-placed Libya are still in the race for a top-two spot and qualification with four points.
The permutations are thus simple – should Mphahlele and co. beat the West African giants on Saturday, qualification will be guaranteed with their final clash against The Mediterranean Knights becoming a dead rubber.
But should they suffer defeat – their first of the campaign – or pick up a solitary point, they will need to go toe-to-toe in their final qualifier away to Libya in March next year, in which another defeat could end their bid to compete in Cameroon.
“We are not looking at the log, our focus is on a win every time we play,” Mphahlele defended.
“Though we missed a lot of chances against Seychelles, we have moved on and put that behind us.”
He added: “We are calling on South Africans to come in their numbers and rally behind the team on Saturday. We will do our best to represent the country with honour and dignity.”