Johannesburg – Following his side's comfortable 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso on Saturday, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says he is delighted with the ever-increasing pool of talent in South African soccer.
Igesund handed three players debut starts, with Marc van Heerden, Bongani Zungu and David Mathebula all included in the starting line-up for the friendly which formed part of the inaugural Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture day at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
“I was able, without any fear, to put a few fringe players in so that I could have a good look at them,” Igesund said after the game.
“I got a good idea of where we are with certain players.
“We've got a lot of talent in this country, we have a lot of talent playing overseas.”
Goals from Siphiwe Tshabalala and Luyolo Nomandela reversed Bafana's fortunes, after they lost by the same scoreline to Nigeria just three days prior.
Igesund added he was pleased with his team's performance, particularly after their lackluster defeat on Wednesday, and said the result would give the team a timely boost ahead of their crucial 2014 World Cup qualifier against Botswana in three weeks' time.
South Africa must claim either a draw or a victory over Botswana, and hope that the Central African Republic (CAR) beat Ethiopia to put themselves in contention to make it through to the next round of qualifiers for the World Cup in Brazil next year.
“Leading up to our game against Botswana, this was a good confidence booster for the players,” he explained.
“We created a lot of chances. We scored two and created a lot.
“But the most important thing for me is that we're creating chances. I think we passed the ball much better today and we kept the ball much better.”
Igesund said players challenging for a place in the national team for the Botswana qualifier would find it difficult, as the pool of new talent meant that no-one in the national set-up would be guaranteed a place in the squad of 23.
“Going into the game against Botswana, I've left out some very good players.
“It's going to be a tough fight for players to get into the squad for the Botswana game and that bodes well for us.
“We all know the importance of the game against Botswana and I will select a team that will go and win that game.”
Bafana struggled at times to wrap-up the result, following a positive start, but Nomandela sealed the victory in the 90th minute, leaving Igesund happy with the win, but not completely satisfied.
“It is a bit frustrating at times because everybody knows, when you're 1-0 up, anything can happen,” Igesund said of a one goal lead.
“You could end up drawing a game that you dominated for 90 minutes. But what I'm pleased about is that the players responded very well to it.
“From our Nigeria game to now, you could see that the players were trying to be a bit more patient in the last third of the field.
“But when you're creating 10 to 15 chances in a game, you can say that you're doing something right.” – Sapa