Gordon Igesund has pleaded with Bafana Bafana to play without fear against Angola this afternoon in Durban and go all out for the victory that will revitalise their Africa Cup of Nations campaign.
South Africa are desperate to get the three points against Palancas Negras at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, having opened their campaign with an insipid goalless draw against Cape Verde on Saturday.
The Bafana coach believed his players were full of nerves against the Blue Sharks, and hopes this evening they can cast that aside in front of an expected capacity crowd.
“We mustn’t be scared to lose,” he said yesterday.
“I would rather go out and not be scared and win 5-4. We have to go for it. I am quietly confident we have the capability (to beat Angola) if we have the support of the crowd and the players are in the right frame of mind.
“Having dropped two points in our first game we need to make sure we win (this one). We can’t get a point and then hope to win the last game.”
Igesund will go into this afternoon’s game without the services of midfielders Kagiso Dikgacoi and Lerato Chabangu.
“Whenever a player is out it is always a blow to the team,” said Igesund.
“Dikgacoi and Chabangu won’t even be on the bench. We have two players in each position and enough cover in certain areas… it is a blow, but we have to get on with it.”
Dean Furman is set to replace Dikgacoi in the Bafana starting eleven, and Igesund hinted he could also make other changes in personnel.
“There will be certain changes, positive changes,” he said. “It needs to be done. We need to win this game.”
Another man likely to return to the starting line-up is striker Katlego Mphela, Bafana’s all-time leading scorer this week declaring himself fit and ready to start for the national team.
It was the level of performance, as well as the result, that worried many against Cape Verde, Igesund acknowledging that his side played far too many long balls on the day.
“We are looking for a much improved performance,” said the Bafana coach. “We are looking for the team to keep the ball for longer. We need to be much more patient in our build-up, to keep possession, to get forward as a group and to be compact.”
Whether Bafana will be able to take down a tricky Angola side, however, remains to be seen. Palancas Negras finally arrived in Durban yesterday, staying in the North Beach hotel, right next to Bafana.
The imposing presence of striker Manucho was there for all to see, and Angola should certainly provide Bafana’s defence with plenty to ponder this afternoon.
“Angola are a very useful team, they have very useful players, especially up front, and the three players behind the striker,” added Igesund.
“They are useful, quick and they need to be marked tightly. We need to respect them and we need to be brave and try to get them on the back foot and score the goals they need.”
Manucho scored a thunderous goal in Ghana in 2008 as Angola and Bafana played out a 1-1 draw in the two side’s last Nations Cup finals encounter. Bafana have slumped down the rankings since then, failing to reach the next two Africa Cuo of Nations, while Angola made it to the quarter-finals in 2008 and 2010.
Angola have plenty more attacking potential these days, with Igesund noting the threat of left winger Geraldo, while former Swiss Under-21 international Guilherme Afonso impressed after coming off the bench in the goalless draw with Morocco.
“Our main motivation is simple – winning,” added Bafana captain Bongani Khumalo.
“When you win everything else falls into place. That is how you bring joy to the nation. We know what we have to do and we have one aim on our minds – to win.” - The Star