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Clive Barker believes that his charges will be under pressure to break their goal drought when Bafana hosts Swaziland at Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday.

FORMER Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker believes that his erstwhile charges will be under pressure to break their goal drought when the national team hosts regional featherweights Swaziland at Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday.

Bafana have managed just one goal — against lowly Madagascar — in seven international outings and Barker said only a comprehensive victory over SA’s southern African neighbours would settle the nation’s nerves in the continuing build-up to the World Cup in June.

“We are expected to win comfortably against them but the fact is we still have to put the ball in the back of the net,” the forthright Barker, who also serves as a Bafana assessor, said. “We are using this as a training match but obviously it means a lot more to them. They have a lot at stake and would consider it a huge achievement if they are able to trouble the hosts of the next World Cup away from home.”

Bafana Bafana will come up against a familiar face on Saturday as the visitor’s coach, Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba, is a former national team mentor.

The South African Football Association (Safa) announced last week that no caps would be awarded for this international encounter as it was considered a training match.

Team manager Sipho Nkumane confirmed this week that the Swazis would also not be allowed to award caps and this was communicated to the visitors — who are expected in SA tomorrow — when the invitation was extended to them by Safa.

But Barker warned that coach Carlos Alberto Parreira should still be wary of the threat posed by Swaziland as many of the nation’s regional neighbours now consider themselves to be on the same level as Bafana after the national team’s decline over the years.

“That is why Madagascar gave us such a fright when we played against them (in September). We were lucky to beat them and that is why I expect Swaziland to be the same.”

While Bafana beat Madagascar

1-0 during that friendly, the national team certainly did not win any friends as they huffed and puffed against a side that had not kicked a ball in anger in nearly a year. Many of their players met at the airport en route to SA and Bafana needed dubious officiating from the referee to earn an undeserved win.

Barker said that getting the year off to a winning start was imperative for Parreira as confidence was still low after former coach Joel Natalino Santana’s disastrous tenure as coach, which ended after he was fired in October. “This match represents something to build on. Parreira is experienced enough to know that we have a chance to build an unbeaten run of matches that could act as confidence-boosters for these players. “He will have had a week with his players by the time we face Swaziland and he will have a better understanding of the kind of players he has at his disposal.”

The responsibility of scoring goals will fall on premiership top scorer Katlego Mphela and he is expected to lead a thin attack that includes Gert Schalkwyk, Thulani Serero and Thulasizwe Mbuyane.

Bafana will play another friendly against Zimbabwe — who are expected to provide stiffer opposition than Swaziland — at Moses Mabhida Stadium on January 27.

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