Durban – As much as Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund wants to win Saturday’s friendly international against Malawi at Moses Mabhida Stadium, the side is still a work in progress.
Saturday’s game (kick-off 5pm) will be another outing for the coach to assess players and combinations in the build-up to the African Nations Cup, which South Africa will host from January 19 to February 10.
The squad arrived in Durban on Thursday with only Belgium-based midfielder Ayanda Patosi absent.
He hasn’t been replaced in the squad, and will join a training camp with 12 other players in Joburg from December 27 to 30.
The final squad will be announced on December 30.
Thereafter Igesund will have almost two weeks, interspersed with friendlies against Norway (Cape Town, January 8) and Algeria (Orlando Stadium, January 12), to instil tactics into the team.
Time was limited, said Igesund, but he was optimistic that once he got his players into an extended camp on January 2 he would turn the bunch of players into a team.
And with a passionate home crowd behind them they would be able to tackle any team during the tournament, which South Africa will open against Cape Verde at the FNB Stadium on January 19.
“The supporters want us to win, and I also want to win. Even if it’s a game of tennis I always want to win. But the Bafana Bafana team has gone through quite a few changes, and we’ll have to get the squad from 36 to 23.
“We’ve played five games and had seven training sessions. You can’t do much a day before the match. And the day we arrive we’ll just have a short session. We can’t do set-pieces, and none of the tactical work. Those things we can’t even talk about now,” said Igesund shortly after the squad arrived in Durban on Thursday.
“Our preparations for Afcon will start on January 2, when we’ll work with the squad morning, afternoon and evening on how to play, watching DVDs and getting the team into some kind of unit.
“Players need to know who is going to cover, when to make runs, the type of run to make and those type of things. It can’t happen in one day. By the time of the 19th (January) we will be ready. We would have had controlled game situations in camp. Right now we’re playing off the cuff. It’s not really a team; we’re not moulded yet,” Igesund elaborated.
He further stated that he hadn’t yet settled on the team for tomorrow’s game. Nor had he identified the captain. However, the coach was clear about the general style that he expected his charges to play.
“I want to play a very attacking type of game, not defensive or counter-attacking. I don’t think we need to play counter-attacking unless there’s a team that’s really better than us. I don’t think there’s any team at Afcon like that.
“We’ve got the ability to play really well and match any team in the Afcon. What tells me that, is how we played against Brazil and Poland. Against Brazil we only lost after we made substitutions late in the match. We also took the game to Brazil. It gives me a lot of belief that if we’re organised and prepared well, we can match anyone. I want to keep the ball on the ground, playing a passing game going forward and keep possession for as long as we can.” – The Mercury