Preview: Algeria – South Africa

Bafana Bafana begin their Africa Cup of Nations campaign against one of the continent’s standout sides from the World Cup last summer

Shakes Mashaba believes his South Africa players are ready for action as they look forward to Monday’s Africa Cup of Nations Group C encounter with Algeria.

Since taking over the reins in July last year, Mashaba has enjoyed an unbeaten start to life in charge of the nation.

In nine matches, Bafana Bafana have won five and drawn four, and they come into the tournament in Equatorial Guinea high on confidence.

They have been placed in a tough group alongside Algeria, Senegal and Ghana, but Mashaba believes his side can get their campaign off to a successful start.

“As I have already said, we inherited a very difficult group,” he said.

“We will play Algeria, which is currently number one in Africa. They have very good players.

“The 16 teams expect and want to win their first game of the tournament, that’s for sure. If we win the first, there is less pressure.

“We know that the first game of a competition such as Afcon is never easy. No one can predict what will happen.

“In any case, we are ready to give everything on the field to snatch a good result. We know that they are a dangerous team and they have many strengths.

“From our side, we are prepared to counter it. Personally, I prefer to speak of my team who also holds strong points. We know what Algeria can do in a game, but the truth today may not be tomorrow’s. In one game, anything can happen.”

Like South Africa, Algeria are also under fresh leadership following Christian Gourcuff’s appointment in August.

The Frenchman took over from Vahid Halilhodzic, who guided the side to the second round of the World Cup in Brazil, and Gourcuff made an impressive start by winning his first five matches in charge.

Following Algeria’s arrival in Equatorial Guinea, Gourcuff gave a clear signal of his team’s intent.

“Our focus is now on our match against South Africa,” he said. “There is no calculation to make in such a competition.

“We need to impose our style of play taking into account the specificity of our opponents. Our objective remains the same – to win all our games.”