Sao Paulo – While he was disappointed to have lost another couple of frontline players through injury, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund was pleased with the team's first match under his charge.
Bafana held South American giants Brazil for 75 minutes in Sao Paulo on Friday night before Hulk scored the only goal of the match to give the hosts a 1-0 victory.
Debutant Dino Ndlovu was forced to leave the field with a dislocated shoulder, and veteran Benni McCarthy, who came on as a first-half substitute – his first appearance for the national team in over two years – was stretchered off after pulling a hamstring.
“I'm very disappointed about Benni's injury,” Igesund said.
“He has been great in the camp and he's had a good attitude.
“It was unfortunate to lose two strikers in a matter of minutes, and we don't like sending players back to their clubs injured.”
Igesund gave credit to a few of his players, including goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune who produced some blinding saves.
He was impressed, however, with the performance of the entire team, who took the game to Brazil and played attacking football, particularly in the second half.
“Khune kept us in the game with two very good saves,” he said.
“I was happy with Bernard Parker when he came on, and (Thulani) Serero did well, but to be honest, I think everybody played well.”
McCarthy had replaced Edward Manqele, who in turn had replaced Siyabonga Nomvethe in the original 25-man squad, but with a number of key strikers unavailable, Igesund felt their next friendly match, against Mozambique in Nelspruit on Tuesday, gave him a chance to look at a few more players.
He reiterated the need to experiment while they could in an effort to compile the best possible squad for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which will be hosted by South Africa.
“I'm not really too concerned about these friendly games we're playing now,” Igesund said.
“I'm just concerned about me being able to get the team right by the Africa Cup of Nations.
“Winning is not important. What is important is to do well, it's important to grow, it's important for players to feel pride when they put the jersey on, and technically for them to be aware of situations. They will get there.”
* Sapa's reporter is in Sao Paulo as a guest of the SA Football Association. – Sapa