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South Africa v Algeria

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Serero: Potential match winner

Serero: Potential match winner

Bafana Bafana will have one last chance to impress on their fans their ambition to succeed in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) when they host Algeria on Saturday in their final warm-up match ahead of the tournament.

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The game takes place at Orlando Stadium and kickoff will be five hours later than previously scheduled due to the extreme heat in Johannesburg.

South Africa are ranked 23rd in Africa and 87th in the world, with Algeria ranked second on the continent and 19th on the global stage.

Bafana beat Algeria 2-1 in the 1996 AFCON quarter-finals and in 2008 held them to a 1-1 draw in Ghana.

South African fans will likely be demanding victory, though, ahead of the continental showpiece.

Another loss, or even a draw, would not bode well for the competition's host nation, who won the African spectacular on home soil the first time they competed in it 17 years ago.

For the home side, Thulani Serero has the potential to change the outcome of any game with a moment of individual brilliance.

But the talented playmaker has struggled with injury at Ajax Amsterdam and is not fully match fit.

The clash with the Desert Foxes will be a final test to see how ready he is for a full 90 minutes or a starting berth in the tournament proper.

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund is, however, hopeful that the Soweto-born attacker will be ready to fire on all cylinders by the time South Africa take on Cape Verde on January 19.

"He is fit and ready, his match fitness needs to improve but I believe by the 19th he will be ready," said Igesund.

Despite losing to Norway in Cape Town on Tuesday, Igesund reckons that there is a positive vibe in the camp.

He added: "The players believe in themselves. They believe in what's happening and if we can just transform what I have seen them do at training onto the playing field that will be a big thing.

"The team is now playing with a lot of confidence."

Algeria are a rising power in Africa, and with exciting players like Sofiane Feghouli in their ranks the Foxes should provide Bafana Bafana with a real workout.

Likened to Algerian-born French star Zinedine Zidane, Feghouli plays regularly for Valencia and has also attracted interest from several top European clubs.

However, the 22-year-old claims his attention is on AFCON for now, recently telling the Confederation of African Football's website: "We have a young team.

"It will be my first AFCON, and my ambition is to go as far as possible. With such a team-spirit we showed during the qualifiers, we can do great things.

"We have been consistent lately. With effort, we can move mountains, but we must go step by step.

"We do not want to miss this great event, so we must be ambitious and well prepared above all. Our goal is to make it to the last eight."

Posted: 11/01/13 15:25

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