Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

Kgatlana hopes superior Loftus surface can help get Banyana to Paris

'It is an advantage for us to go home and play in better facilities,' said the Banyana striker.

Thembi Kgatlana is hoping a better playing surface at Loftus Stadium will help Banyana Banyana on Tuesday as they look to overturn a 1-0 deficit and beat Nigeria in the second leg of their final qualifier for the Paris Olympics (kick off 7.30pm).

Only the victor over the two legs will head off to France later this year, and Banyana have plenty of work to do after the Super Falcons clinched victory in Abuja on Friday. 

Banyana striker Kgatlana believes Nigeria deliberately didn’t cut the grass on the pitch at the MK Abiola Stadium, to stop Banyana from playing their usual brand of slick passing football.“

They didn’t cut the grass, because they know we are a team that likes to play with the ball,” said Kgatlana.

“They are not, they are a team that likes to play balls forward and run in behind. When the ball drops (on that pitch) it doesn’t bounce. It worked for them (on Friday) but now it is an advantage for us to go home and play in better facilities.”

With no away goals rule in these qualifiers, the task is simple for Banyana – any win by two goals or more will take them to Paris while a victory by one goal will leave the game heading to extra time and possibly penalties.

Any other result will see Banyana miss a second Olympic Games in a row.

“The good thing is that this is not a tournament, we know that whoever wins (the tie) in Pretoria goes through. They are 1-0 up with no away goals rule, that gives us confidence, we know we just have to win by a better score,” added Kgatlana.

‘A bit unfortunate’

Nigeria head coach Randy Waldrum, meanwhile, feels his side could be further ahead in the tie by now, instead of only leading via a penalty from Super Falcons captain Rasheedat Ajibade.

“I thought we were a bit unfortunate not to have at least two or three goals victory tonight but I think the team played well,” said Waldrum, according to Nigeira’s Vanguard website.

“I thought we were good defensively considering we had some new players at the back, as we missed players like Ashleigh Plumptre and Tosin Demehim.

“I think the back four stood very strong. I can only remember two good opportunities that they (South Africa) had. “The bottom line is, we have one game left, and we have to get the result.”