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‘Entire squad to get time against NZ’

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Copy of iol spt pic Gordon Igesund [1]

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Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has reiterated his desire to give his entire travelling party a run out against New Zealand, he said. Photo: Duif du Toit

Auckland - Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has reiterated his desire to give his entire travelling party a run out against New Zealand, he said on Thursday.

“I'm hoping to give everybody a run because I don't want to bring players all the way here and they don't have a chance to kick the ball,” Igesund ahead of Friday's international friendly at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.

“They will probably all get a chance during the game sometime.”

He said he would make only a few changes to the starting line-up but needed to blood his inexperienced youngsters and afford them valuable game-time in the national setup.

Bafana round off their Australasian tour against the All Whites on Friday, having drawn 1-1 with Australia's Socceroos in Sydney on Monday.

Igesund's young squad drew praise from numerous detractors following the successful exercise in Australia. The game painted a clearer picture of what South Africa could expect from their young stars in the future.

A tough week for the team saw the emphasis fall on recovery and rest, following a further three-and-a-half hours travel to Auckland. Ten hours ahead of their home country, they needed some adjustment to the new environment.

“A lot of people thought this trip wasn't going to be any good for us, but it's been excellent,” Igesund said.

“This gives us the opportunity to play and try out a couple of guys and I'm very pleased so far with them.

“This is the future of South African football, so this is exciting that some of them have pulled through the way they have.”

Thabo Nthethe is a doubtful starter for Friday and looks set to miss out with an ankle problem.

His absence could see right-back Anele Ngcongca slot into the centre of defence, along with Buhle Mkhwanazi, following Erick Mathoho's withdrawal from the squad on Tuesday, after news reached Sydney that his cousin had passed away.

The defence looked set to sport the most changes, with Sibusiso Khumalo also appearing to be favourite for a look in at left-back, while Siyabonga Nhlapo would be a like-for-like change at right back, coming in for Ngcongca.

Ronwen Williams could be in line to earn his second cap, but no indication was given by the tight-lipped coach who may well stick with Senzo Meyiwa between the posts after a successful outing against the Aussies.

Igesund said he was expecting a tough encounter against their hosts who could go against the script and play above their lowly world ranking of 111.

“I've done quite a bit of homework on them. They're going to be a hard-running team. They also have quite a young team and they're also trying to change things around.

“I believe they have a South African by the name of Storm Roux playing at right-back. They've got a couple of good players who play in the Australian league and, from what I know about them, they have a fairly decent side, but I'm not going to worry about them really.

“I'm going to worry about us and make sure that we perform and play the type of football we want to play.”

A carpet-like pitch welcomed the South Africans on Thursday afternoon for the team's final training session and Igesund looked more than happy to be sending his side out onto a near-flawless surface at the 30 000-seater arena.

“I want the players to enjoy it, the pitch is fantastic. If you can't play football on this pitch, then you can't play football anywhere.”

Sapa


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