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Tshabalala upbeat despite Bafana withdrawals

Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala has backed Bafana Bafana to do well without the six Orlando Pirates players that have been withdrawn from the squad.

Pirates asked for their players to be withdrawn from the team for Bafana Bafana’s friendlies against Nigeria and Burkina Faso, while they prepare for their CAF Champions League group stage tie with Egyptian giants Zamalek next Saturday.

Andile Jali, Thandani Ntshumayelo, Thabo Matlaba, Senzo Meyiwa, Daine Klate and Oupa Manyisa have been withdrawn, but Tshabalala, capped 70 times, said their replacements are capable of rising to the occasion in the friendlies. SuperSport’s David Mathebula and Bennett Chenene have been brought in as the only two replacements.

“I don’t want to dwell much on the players that are not in the team. Congratulations to the guys that have been selected. It shows they have been doing well for their teams and I wish them all the best. I trust that they will add value. We can do well,” he said yesterday.

Tshabalala also said Amakhosi have been inspired by Pirates’ amazing Champions League run which has given South Africans real hope of success on the continent.

Amakhosi will compete in the African club competition for the first time in nearly a decade next year after winning the Premiership last season. They have high hopes of doing well while challenging for trophies on home soil as well.

“Definitely it inspires us and I would like to say congratulations to them (Pirates) for beating Al Ahly. It’s not easy beating a team of Al Ahly’s calibre by three goals. And it was in their own backyard, so they did very well. They are representing the whole nation and we are really proud of what they are doing, and I wish them the best going forward,” said Tshabalala.

Tshabalala has however warned that Amakhosi will not relinquish the two titles they won last season, the Premiership and Nedbank Cup, while they chase the Champions League. In fact, Chiefs are determined to win the first knockout competition of the campaign, the, MTN8, which starts tonight.

“The challenges are there, but we are up for it. Now there is the MTN8 and we have been working very hard. All is well. We have less injuries and everyone is pushing themselves to be part of the team. If we work the way we have been at training, things will be much easier in terms of winning,” Tshabalala said.

Amakhosi will have to overcome a side they’ve failed to beat in their previous three attempts if they are to have a shot at glory early on in the campaign. Amakhosi face University of Pretoria in the last eight tomorrow night (8.15pm) at FNB Stadium, hoping to finally get a win against Steve Barker’s stubborn team. Ama-Tuks beat Chiefs on the final day of last season, following their 1-1 draw in the first round of the league.

Barker’s men were also on the winning side against Amakhosi in 2009 on their way to the Nedbank Cup final.

“Playing Tuks will be a different ball game. It’s a cup competition and there are no second chances. We have another opportunity as well to rectify our mistakes and be better.

“They are a good side. Their first season in the PSL they finished in the top eight. It shows they have a good coach. But we want to advance to the next round. And for us to do that, we need do our best.”

Meanwhile, AmaTuks midfielder Dipsy Selolwane says the club is looking forward to the last eight tie against Amakhosi. AmaTuks finished eighth last season and Selolwane is hoping they can continue where they left off.

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