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Johannesburg – South Africa coach Gordon Igesund says he can fully understand the frustration of the Bafana Bafana fans after the disappointing start to their Africa Cup of Nations campaign, but insists they can still win the tournament.
The hosts launched the continental showpiece with a goalless Group A draw against Cape Verde Islands at the National Stadium on Saturday.
It was a disappointing outcome against a team that was making its debut at the finals.
“We have very passionate fans in South Africa, they give us fantastic support,” Igesund told a press conference in Durban on Sunday.
“The expectations are very high and there’s a lot of pressure on the team at the moment.”
Igesund felt that some of the pressure was completely unwarranted, explaining that it had come from supporters expecting Bafana Bafana to emulate the 1996-winning team.
“There’s a lot of talk about the 96 squad, it’s right in our faces all the time,” he said.
“When I say in our faces, I mean our players want to emulate that, the nation wants them to, the legends want them to do it.”
The disappointment of the result, in the broader context, was somewhat lessened later on Saturday when the other two teams in the group, Angola and Morocco also played to a goalless draw.
“We obviously want to be in a position where we have our fate in our own hands, so I was absolutely delighted that they also drew 0-0,” Igesund said.
“This means we all start on equal footing again. But we can’t afford to have another performance like that again.”
The national boss remained optimistic, though, that his squad had the ability to go all the way, urging fans not to give up on them.
“Football’s a funny game,” he added. “I’ve seen that over the many, many years I’ve been involved in the game, strange things can happen.
“If we can just get the momentum and confidence going, score those goals, get a good result under our belts, get the confidence in ourselves and the confidence of the county behind us, anything is possible.”
Bafana play their next match against the Angolans in Durban on Wednesday. – Sapa