fast little loans
Cape Town - Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund did a couple of body shakes at a press conference on his arrival in Cape Town on Monday to prove his fitness after undergoing surgery to remove his appendix shortly after the Africa Cup of Nations.
“Do I look sick? Do you want me to jump up and down for you? Are you going to give me a fitness test? Thanks for your concern!” the popular South African coach joked with a broad smile when asked if he is fine to man the bench for Saturday’s crucial World Cup Group A qualifier against the Central African Republic at Cape Town Stadium (8.15pm kickoff).
However, Igesund was a bit more serious about his team’s injury worries after star central defender Siyabonga Sangweni on Monday became the second key member of the backline to withdraw ahead of the clash.
Kaizer Chiefs defender Mulomowandau Mathoho was drafted into the squad for the Orlando Pirates man, who was an important figure in Igesund’s squad at both ends of the field during the recent Afcon, as he also scored some vital goals.
On Sunday, left back Tsepo Masilela was replaced in the squad by Orlando Pirates’ Thabo Matlaba because of a knee injury.
Igesund will now have a brand new central defensive pairing for the encounter after Afcon captain Bongani Khumalo was dropped because of “a lack of gametime and a slight injury”.
Fit-again Morgan Gould seems certain to start in one of those positions, and could be partnered by either his Chiefs teammate Mathoho, Russian-based Siyanda Xulu or Bloemfontein Celtic’s Thabo Nthethe.
“In football, you are always going to get injuries. These things happen. But I have picked a squad with enough depth in the side, and I’m quite confident in the centre halves that are here,” Igesund said.
“The only thing is that one or two of the players haven’t played together, so I have to give a lot of thought to that. I know that Morgan Gould and Mathoho are partners for Kaizer Chiefs, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve got to go like that.
“When a player like Sangweni gets injured, there is no use moping about it. He can’t play, and we have to overcome these obstacles.”
While the formation of the back-four is Igesund’s biggest concern, the core of the rest of the squad were involved during Bafana’s quarter-final run at the continental showpiece earlier this year.
South Africa started their Afcon campaign with a farcical draw against Cape Verde at the FNB Stadium, as it seemed that the players’ legs were overcome with nerves in the opening match.
But, after a bit of a shuffle in playing personnel and gameplan, Bafana got stronger as the tournament went on, and they produced some marvellous football, bowing out on penalties in the last-eight at the hands of Mali.
Igesund expects his charges to hit the ground running at full tilt when they step on to the pitch on Saturday, because the glare of the spotlight will be a lot less than it was in January and February.
However, Saturday’s match is still a must-win encounter, as Bafana are currently third in Group A on two points, and trailing leaders Ethiopia (four points) and second-placed Central African Republic (three points).
“I think we have come a long way in a short space of time. I kept saying this, as the tournament went on, the players had a lot more belief and a lot more confidence,” Igesund said.
“I think there is a good spirit in the team, and the guys are proud to put the jersey on and know what it means. Our mission is to qualify, we know that is a tough task. But I don’t think they will feel that kind of pressure anymore.
“The pressure (ahead of Afcon) was maybe the brunt of what happened before, and there was pressure to perform. But we overcame that as the tournament went on. And right now, there is no doubt in my mind that the players will express themselves on Saturday night.”
*Bafana results so far:
June 3, 2012 (Rustenburg): SA 1 Ethiopia 1
June 9, 2012 (Gabarone): Botswana 1 SA 1
Group A standings:
P W D L F A P
Ethiopia 2 1 1 0 3 1 4
CAR 2 1 0 1 2 2 3
South Africa 2 0 2 0 2 2 2
Botswana 2 0 1 1 1 3 1
Bafana’s remaining matches
March 23, 2013: SA v Central African Republic (Cape Town Stadium)
June 8, 2013: Central African Republic v SA (away)
June 15, 2013: Ethiopia v SA (away)
September 7, 2013: SA v Botswana (home)