Bafana Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele wants to ensure players are full of confidence ahead of the crucial COSAFA Cup Group A clash with Eswatini.

South Africa will face Eswatini at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium at 3pm on Tuesday.

Bafana Bafana’s performance in the tournament so far has been less than ideal, with the team drawing their first two matches.

They managed a 1-1 draw against Mozambique, despite leading at halftime, and a goalless draw against Botswana, where they struggled to create clear scoring opportunities.

One of the challenges identified by Mkhalele is the players’ lack of match fitness. The squad had only just returned from their off-season three days before the start of the 2024 COSAFA Cup, leaving them not fully prepared for the rigorous demands of the tournament.

The group standings are currently tight, with South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, and Mozambique all tied at two points each after drawing their first two matches.

This scenario makes the upcoming game against Eswatini a must-win for Bafana Bafana if they wish to progress to the next round.

Despite the frustrations from the previous matches, Mkhalele remains optimistic. He has noted some positive aspects in the team’s performance against Botswana, which he hopes to build on for the crucial match ahead.

“We will have more off-the-field sessions because if you still remember, they only came back on Sunday (June 23) and on Wednesday, we played a tough game against Mozambique and another tough one against Botswana,” Mkhalele said after the Botswana game.

“They are coming from an off-season and for us to push them, we will be breaking them and also killing their careers.

“What we will do is to have more of the off-field sessions to work on the mental state and when we train, it is not going to be a hectic session.

“We need them fresh for the next game not to have them physically drained. We will try to find the balance and most of the things we will be doing will be working on their confidence because I know they are starting to doubt themselves.

“I must come in and uplift that confidence in them to go out and make sure we get maximum points.”