South Africa goalkeeper Reyaard Pieterse says his side are well prepared for their COSAFA Cup quarter-final against Madagascar at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday.
Pieterse was the keeper when Bafana Bafana lifted the trophy in 2016 as they beat Botswana in the final, and he is confident that the youthful squad of 2018 will have what it takes to progress to the semi-finals, where Zambia await.
“In football, every day is a new day and a new challenge so we can’t really look at history – yes, it’s good for us – but at the end of the day, they have played a few games and have been gelling so we just need to get together because Madagascar is not going to be an easy opponent and we need to be prepared for them,” said Pieterse.
“It’s going to be a really exciting game, we have prepared very well and the technical team has given us all the ammunition we need for this encounter and the players are really looking forward to this clash.
“It’s an exciting time for us with a lot of youngsters coming through with a lot of talent, so it’s definitely looking good for the country and for Bafana Bafana ahead,” adds Pieterse.
For Madagascar it will be a fourth game in eight days, and Pieterse is unsure how they will respond to the energy-sapping schedule.
“There could be a lot of pros and cons towards the game but looking at how things will pan out either they will be tired or they will come out sharp, so we just need to be prepared for what they throw at us and we need to be know what we have to do – that is to utilise every strength we have in the team and go through to the next round,” said Pieterse.
“It is a challenge that everyone comes from different clubs where they are used to different styles of play but our preparations have been going quite well. Coach Baxter and his technical team have been trying to get us to gel together – we played a practice match and it went very well, so it is coming together nicely. I believe we can go all the way. The talent that we have here is insane, and there are players that have been left out as well.
“For me it’s incredible to have such talent on display for Bafana Bafana, I am really looking forward to the tournament.”
On the goalkeeping department, Pieterse is facing a strong challenge from Bruce Bvuma and Khulekani Kubheka.
“You can’t take anything for granted, with me being the senior one of the lot, I don’t take anything for granted as they are pushing me. I also know I need to push myself to be better, to give advice where needed and also to learn from them because every day is a learning day, so I never want to take anything for granted, but I need to do the best I can do and hopefully inspire the ones that are around me,” said Pieterse.