South Africa wary of 'weak' Kenya

AFP, Tuesday 8 Feb 2011

South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane and captain Aaron Mokoena are wary of Kenya ahead of a Wednesday friendly in Rustenburg despite the 27-place divide on the African rankings

Pitso Mosimane
South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane

"Kenya are not as weak as many footballer followers believe. Every country that faces South Africa just wants to do well and we have to guard against taking them lightly," warned Mokoena.

"We are using this match to get our rhythm back so that when we face Egypt next month we are ready for a good fight," added the central defender from English second-tier club Portsmouth.

South Africa top a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group and Egypt, seeking a record fourth consecutive title, are bottom after only drawing at home to Sierra Leone and suffering a shock loss in Niger.

Those results make the late March showdown in South Africa crucial and Mosimane wanted to face a North African country in the only friendly opportunity ahead of the big match.

But after South Africa announced they would host Burkina Faso, the fixture was cancelled at the last minute and Kenya ditched a friendly with Zambia in Nairobi to visit the 2010 World Cup hosts.

"Kenya have a team that we respect with a number of their footballers playing in Europe, so we have to be careful how we treat them," stressed former national team striker Mosimane whose team are ranked eighth in Africa.

"South Africans tend to be too dismissive of football in East Africa. We are preparing to meet Egypt and they recently played Tanzania and Uganda, so there is nothing wrong with us meeting the Harambee Stars."

The Kenyan threat was diluted on the eve of the match when their key player, Inter Milan midfielder McDonald Mariga, withdrew because doctors at his Italian club say he is nursing a knock.

Norway-based goalkeeper Arnold Origi has also pulled out, leaving three Europe-based Kenyans in the squad -- midfielders Johanna Omollo and Victor Mugabe and striker Dennis Oliech from French club Auxerre.

Kenya have fared poorly in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, losing away to Guinea Bissau and being held at home by Uganda, and their chances of making the 2012 tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon seem slim.

Lack of goals has been an on-going problem for Bafana Bafana (The Boys) and leading scorer Katlego Mphela will miss the match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in the north-west mining town after refusing to train with Mamelodi Sundowns.

Mphela, his agent, and the Pretoria club are involved in an increasingly ugly dispute over the future of a footballer who wants to join Serbian club Partizan Belgrade.

Mosimane called up in-form Ajax Cape Town striker Thembinkosi 'Terror' Fanteni after Kermit Eramsus withdrew injured and Davide Somma from English second-tier outfit Leeds United is among his strike-force options.

Somma made his debut last November in a 1-0 home friendly loss to the United States, the first reverse for Mosismane since he succeeded Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira after the hosts made a first-round World Cup exit.

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