Mkhalele backs Serero to shine

Mkhalele backs Serero to shine

Helman Mkhalele says fans shouldn't worry too much about Thulani Serero's performance against Nigeria as the Vitesse midfielder was not fully fit.



The midfielder was back in the Bafana frame for the first time in a year but made way for Thembinkosi Lorch on the hour mark.

Prior to the match, head coach Stuart Baxter admitted that it was not ideal to start Serero, but felt he could not leave a player with his stature on the bench for such an important game.

And following the 1-1 draw at the FNB Stadium, Mkhalele felt that nerves also played a part for Serero upon his return to the fold.

He told the Sowetan: "You could see he was very tense. He couldn't express himself, and I think that was because of what happened between him and the nation.

But now that he's played here, I believe the ice has been broken. A player of his capabilities will bounce back. I think he will be key in the last match away to Libya [in March]."

On the match itself, Mkhalele added: "The first mistake we made was to allow Nigeria to be the aggressors in the opening phase. An away team should never dictate the pace so early.

"I was not surprised that they scored first. But we did well to come back and equalise.

"After half-time, Nigeria were content with a draw, and again we didn't push them hard enough. They sat back and slowed down the game, yet Percy Tau had showed they are not comfortable dealing with pace. We didn't unsettle them at all in the second half."