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Nelspruit – On the eve of a second international friendly soccer match in four days, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said the focus is on the African Nations Cup in 2013.
In his first game in charge, Igesund was applauded for a good showing by the national team, which held five-time World Champions Brazil for 75 minutes before conceding a goal to go down 1-0 away in Sao Paulo on Saturday.
Bafana face a Mozambican side ranked 10 spots below them in the African rankings on Tuesday evening at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, and it will present a vastly different prospect for Igesund's troops.
“The bigger picture here is that we haven't got a lot of time before the African Cup of Nations,” Igesund said on Monday after the team's training session.
“I can't get this message across more importantly than that is what our big picture is.
“It's not important for us to have fantastic 4-0 results and not do well in the African Cup of Nations.
“Of course we want to do both, but there's (no) time.”
Igesund made the point that with any kind of change, real progress took time and with Afcon 2013 looming around the corner in January, the players would have to make the most of their opportunities.
“There'll be lots of changes taking place, there's lots of new players in the squad,” he said.
“There's a completely new formation we're playing, there's a whole new thing going on, and these things take time.”
The former Moroka Swallows coach warned that there would be no room for complacency in his team.
“What's important that I pump into these players is that we can't get complacent,” Igesund said.
“We played against Brazil in front of 50,000 people and the guys were pumped up.
“They need to be equally pumped up when we play against Mozambique tomorrow, or whether we play Namibia or whoever, we need to have the same attitude, the same commitment, the same passion, the same driving force that we had before and that's what we want to do.”
The coach said he would also change his combinations, which would mean more fringe players would have a chance to impress on the international stage.
“It's not about playing your strongest team all the time, If I stick to 11 players or 12 players that I think are my strongest team the others are never going to get a chance,” he said.
“Then how are we going to know if they are up to what I want for the African Cup of Nations?
“We need to test players. We need to put them in a situation. We need to put them in these high-tempo games and see how they cope.
“Otherwise we're never going to know that and we're going to guess.”
Igesund stressed the importance of the attitude of players and cited Barcelona magician Lionel Messi as a prime example of a talent not properly utilised at international level.
“There's a huge difference playing for a club and playing for your country,” Igesund said.
“The player can be an absolutely top class player for his club, but doesn't quite make the cut at international football for whatever reason.
“Not only in South Africa, but worldwide.
“Sometimes Messi's outstanding for Barcelona, he plays for his country and people say he's a different player.
“Sometime the attitude and temperament is not right, but we need to test all these things.” – Sapa