Tafadzwa Chigandiwa, Sports Reporter
BAFANA Bafana legend, Shaun Bartlett has warned South Africa’s senior national team not to underestimate the Warriors ahead of their upcoming World Cup (WC) qualifier clash early next month.
Zimbabwe host South Africa at the National Sports Stadium on September 3.
In an interview with H-Metro, the 48-year-old former Bafana Bafana captain said Zdravko Logarusic’s side is a big threat.
“Every game between the two countries is always intriguing because we are neighbours. We (South Africa) should never underestimate our neighbours in this game because they have quality players.
“Some of these quality players ply their trade here in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL),” said Bartlett.
The former Kaizer Chiefs, Charlton Athletic and Bloemfontein Celtic forward said South Africa should avoid losing the tricky encounter to ensure they have a better chance of qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
“We should avoid a loss at all costs. As I said, the game is intriguing because we are neighbours, it’s even more intriguing for us (South Africa) because we didn’t qualify for AFCON and now we need to redeem ourselves by getting to Qatar 2022,” he added.
The Bafana Bafana legend predicted the match will be more difficult than expected since both sides are eager to kick-start their qualifying journey with victories.
“It is a very difficult match as both teams would like to start on a positive note,” Bartlett told H-Metro Sport.
The last time these two teams played at the same venue, was a World Cup qualifier 21 years ago when 13 people died after a stampede.
Zimbabwe lost the match 2-0 courtesy of Delron Buckely’s brace.
According to reports Buckely caused the chaos after provoking the home fans.
And asked whether his former teammate is to blame Bartlett, who was amongst the most affected players because he is asthmatic, dismissed the reports.
“Honestly I doubt the disaster had anything to do with Delron because already the score line was not in the favour of the hosts.
“The police made things worse by firing teargas into the crowd which resulted in a stampede. I was extremely scared as I was struggling to breathe and my eyes could not stop burning.
“An experience that I would not want to relive at any point. I still maintain Delron had nothing to do with the unrest at that match,” the former Bafana Bafana forward revealed.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe will then travel away to Ethiopia for another match four days later.
The Warriors are in group G with neighbours South Africa, Ethopia and Ghana.