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Cape Town - Gordon Igesund is confident his Bafana Bafana squad is now able to adequately deal with pressure.
As the SA national football side prepares to face the Central African Republic (CAR) in a 2014 World Cup qualifier at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night (kick-off 8.15pm), head coach Igesund was quick to remember his team’s no-show in the opening match of the recent Africa Cup of Nations.
As host nation in January earlier this year, there was much pressure on Bafana to perform, but they froze and produced a limp performance in a goalless draw with Cape Verde.
Now, as the pressure again starts to mount, considering that Bafana are lagging behind Ethiopia and CAR in their qualifying group, the possibility exists that Igesund’s men could again choke on the big stage.
Not so, insisted the coach.
“That won’t happen,” said Igesund. “We’ve come a long way since that opening match of the Nations Cup. The team got better as the tournament progressed and I don’t expect something like that to happen again.
“Most importantly, there is spirit in the squad and they are proud to wear the Bafana jersey. They will go out and express themselves, and I certainly don’t expect them to crack under pressure.
“On the contrary, the team is determined to revive our World Cup qualifying campaign, and they will be motivated to do so.”
Squad news from the Bafana camp is that, in addition to the withdrawal of injured left-back Tsepo Masilela, two more players pulled up injured on Monday - Orlando Pirates central defender Siyabonga Sangweni and Supersport United goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
Sangweni is replaced by Kaizer Chiefs defender Erick Mathoho.
Williams wasn’t officially in the squad as he had only been called up to get a feel of the Bafana experience. No replacement was necessary as there are already three goalkeepers in the squad - captain Itumeleng Khune, Wayne Sandilands and Senzo Meyiwa.
“Injuries happen, they are part and parcel of the game,” said Igesund.
“But life goes on and, as a team, we have to overcome obstacles.
“I have picked a squad with enough depth and I have confidence in each and every player I have selected.”
Only three overseas-based players were yet to arrive in the Mother City yesterday – May Mahlangu, Dino Ndlovu and Siyanda Xulu. The trio were expected this morning.