Experienced players in the Bafana Bafana squad are providing a crucial environment for the squad's newer stars, according to Assistant Coach Thabo Senong.
Speaking to Stephen Grootes out of Gabon ahead of the team's friendly against Cameroon, Senong praised the senior players for using their experience to protect the younger stars from distraction while transforming Bafana "to be a winning team again."
For the Orange Africa Cup of Nations, Bafana are drawn in Group C - against the likes of Algeria, Ghana and Senegal. When asked about the prospect of facing formidible opponents Senong was far more philosophical...
We are fortunate to get the opportunity to play with such opposition. These games will help us be stronger, they'll help us identify weaknesses, they'll help us to see some of our strengths. We all know that we're building a strong tream for 2018 World Cup and that can only happen when you experience tough conditions.— Thabo Senong
When asked about some of the contributing factors behind Bafana's outstanding performances of late, Senong was quick to give credit to Head Coach Shakes Mashaba...
He's a very good leader and he has instilled a lot of hunger to win matches. He has reminded the boys of the importance of playing for the national team - and of course, leaving a good legacy with everything they are doing.. the importance of trying to write a positive story when they are part of Bafana Bafana.— Thabo Senong
Head Coach Shakes Mashaba, seated center (front) with his AFCON squad
While Mashaba has been quoted as saying that Bafana have a realistic chance of winning the AFCON tournament, which starts in Equatorial Guinea on 17 January, that doesn't mean he isn't without concerns.
Going into AFCON and facing a tough group, Senong wanted to assure the fans that they would get more of what they have been seeing of late, and that Bafana would be sticking to their winning recipe - "effective attacking football"...
Listen to the entire interview with Stephen Grootes here: