2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier

Mauritania v South Africa – Saturday 5 September – Stade Olympique, Nouakchott (20:00)

Dean Furman of South Africa during of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations match between Algeria and South Africa at Mongomo Stadium, Equatorial Guinea on 19 January 2015 Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix28/10   23/10   9/10

It’s international week with continental qualifiers, World Cup qualifiers and friendlies to entertain the football loving planet. In Africa we gear up for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with qualifiers for the tournament resuming this weekend. There are 13 groups of four with only the top ranked sides and two best second placed teams to accompany hosts Gabon for the 2017 AFCON. South Africa are in Group M alongside African giants Cameroon as well as Gambia and their opponents this weekend Mauritania. Cameroon sit top of the group after the first round of matches, beating Mauritania while South Africa started their campaign in disappointing fashion, drawing at home to Gambia. South Africa travel to Mauritania this weekend in what is a must win match for both sides as they look to challenge Cameroon for qualification.

Mauritania are regarded minnows on the African continent and will be looking to cause an upset against South Africa. Coached by Frenchman Corentin Martins, Mauritania have never managed to reach an AFCON, but their mentor has stated his confidence they can cause a few upsets and he has reason to believe so. The north-west Africans were the biggest climbers from the continent in the latest FIFA rankings. The largely desert country rose 15 places to 33rd in Africa and 113 in the world thanks to two victories over Sierra Leone in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers. They have been steadily improving and were unlucky to lose their AFCON qualifier 1-0 to four-time African champions Cameroon in June, prior to their 2-0 and 2-1 CHAN victories over Sierra Leone. Mauritania contained the Indomitable Lions in their own backyard until the final minute when Porto striker Vincent Aboubakar snatched the match-winning goal for the hosts. Mauritania’s defence was resilient throughout, giving Cameroon very few clear cut scoring opportunities. A victory over traditional poor travellers South Africa at Stade Olympique in Nouakchott would bring Mauritania back into contention to win Group M. Les Mourabitones’ form has been up and down in recent times, but one thing that is clear is that they have been much stronger when playing at home. Since 2014 they have played 10 away games, managing three wins and losing seven times. Their home record, however, has been much better as they have won four of their last five games in Mauritania, losing just once to Uganda by a sole goal. Bafana Bafana can’t afford to take their opponents likely as they have brought down the likes of Niger, Mauritius and Equatorial Guinea when playing in front of their passionate home support. Their squad mainly consists of players plying their trade in their minor domestic league but they also have a good source of overseas based talent, mainly from lower league FClick-to-bet-now-300x40rench clubs and neighbouring North African teams.


Goalkeepers: Souleymane Diallo (Tevragh-Zeina), Ibrahima Sy (ASC Tidjikja), Baba Aly Azmane (ASC Ksar)

Defenders: Demba Sow (Le Havre, France), Abdoul Ba (Lens, France), Mamadou Idrissa Wade (FC Nouadhibou), Oumar N’Diaye (Mantes, France), Bilal Sidibe (FCAV Redon, France), Ahmed Ahmedou (Three Bridges, England), Yacoub Fall (FC Nouadhibou)

Midfielders: Moussa Baghayoko (ASAC Concorde), Adama Ba (Niort, France), Oumar N’Diaye (MO Bejaia, Algeria), Moctar Sidi El Hacen (ASAC Concorde), Khassa Camara (Troyes, France), Diallo Guidileye (AEL Limassol, Cyprus), Ahmed Djiby Samb (FC Nouadhibou)

Karamoko Moussa Traore (Sale, Morocco), Moulaye Ahmed (JS Kabylie, Algeria), Ely Cheikh Voulany (Tevragh-Zeina), Amadou Niass (ASAC Concorde), Ismael Diakite (Hammam-Lif, Tunisia)

South Africa
Ever since the qualifying draw for AFCON 2017 was conducted Bafana knew that matches against Mauritania and Gambia were must win games if they were to compete with Cameroon for top spot in Group M. However, they started the qualifiers for next year’s tournament in Gabon in dull fashion, drawing goalless at home to Gambia on June 13, missing several goal scoring chances in a match they dominated. Group favourites Cameroon await Shakes Mashaba’s team in March next year and anything less than three points here could see Bafana with no chance if they again fail to impress when tackling Cameroon. Mashaba has rewarded Tsepo Masilela for his sterling performances for Kaizer Chiefs over the past year-and-a-half by calling up the experienced left-back. Masilela, who has had his injury problems in the past, has been overlooked by Mashaba in recent times despite consistent performances for Chiefs. Shakes has selected 25 players for this encounter, however two players will be released as only 23 players will travel to Mauritania. The overseas contingent consists of Andile Jali (K.V. Oostende), Mandla Masango (Randers FC), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren), Daylon Claasen (1860 Munchen), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam) and Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth). Notable absentees in this squad include Dutch based Kamohelo Mokotjo and the in-from Orlando Pirates trio of Oupa Manyisa, Kermit Erasmus and the in-form Thabo Rakhale.


Goalkeepers: Jackson Mabokgwane (Mpumalanga Aces FC), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)

Defenders: Erick Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Clayton Daniels (SuperSport United), Siyabonga Nhlapo (Bidvest Wits), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk), Mzikayise Mashaba (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyabonga Zulu (Platinum Stars), Tsepo Masilela (Kaizer Chiefs)

Midfielder: Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Andile Jali (KV Oostende, Belgium), Bongani Zungu (Sundowns), Mandla Masango (Randers, Denmark), Phumlani Ntshangase (Bidvest Wits), Jabulani Shongwe (Bidvest Wits), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Mpho Makola (Orlando Pirates), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren, Belgium), Daylon Claasen (1860 Munich, Germany)

Strikers: Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), Thamsanqa Gabuza (Orlando Pirates), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits), Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth, England)

Prediction: South Africa
South Africa are priced up at a decent 9/10 for the win while those Bafana critics could get 28/10 for the home win or 23/10 available for those who believe that South African attackers can’t even strike a match. Bafana know they have to win and looking at the likes of Thulani Serero, Dean Furman, Andile Jali, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Tokelo Rantie not to mention an ever solid defence, Bafana should manage the three points here.

Wayde Dorkin

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