Johannesburg – Having watched on as Brazilian star Neymar netted an emphatic hat-trick against Bafana Bafana in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Gordon Igesund has heaped praise on the wunderkind.
The 22-year-old netted either side of half-time with two outstanding touches, before completing his rout of the hosts in the last minute of the game.
“Neymar … you can only appreciate him when you watch him on the field live like we did tonight,” Igesund said after the game at FNB Stadium.
“Sometimes you watch him play for Barcelona and you think he’s a good player, but tonight you could really see his quality.
“You can see he’s in a different league completely. He’s a fantastic player – the way he gets the ball, looks at how to find the spaces for himself, how he creates situation – he’s very intelligent.
“He runs with pace and great skill and caused us many problems.”
The Brazilians inflicted a 5-0 massacre on their hosts, the heaviest defeat ever for South Africa, prompting Igesund to say Brazil were simply the better team.
“We’ve got to acknowledge that we were beaten by a very good team tonight. They were absolutely outstanding,” Igesund said.
“Their striking force is outstanding and their ability to eliminate players with speed and precision.
“When you look at their team, for example, they take off Marcelo from Real Madrid and they bring on Dani Alves from Barcelona.
“Then they take off David Luiz from Chelsea and they bring on Dante from Bayern Munich.
“They’ve got so much depth and quality in their team.”
Speaking of Bafana's goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who earned his first international cap on Wednesday, Igesund said he was pleased with the SuperSport United shot-stopper.
“Like many players out there, he learnt lots of lessons tonight.
“Ronwen has been playing well for his club. When you call him a youngster, he’s been playing for four years in the Premiership and I just thought he needed his opportunity.
“They learnt lessons and that’s what it’s about. When you play a team like Brazil, put them in there and let them see and let them learn from it.”
The result put further pressure on the 57-year-old Igesund, whose contract expires after the 2014 Fifa World Cup in July, when his deal will be up for review.
Igesund, however, insists Bafana played a totally different calibre of team compared with the Spanish side shocked into a 1-0
defeat by South Africa in November last year.
“We’re working towards something. The difference between us, of course, is when they got their opportunities, they took them.
“Against Spain – we watch teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid and these teams on a regular basis and sometimes they can become a little bit predictable.
“I think the big difference between Spain and Brazil, was that Brazil tonight were excellent. I think they wanted to show the world that they’re going to be the favourites to win the World Cup.” – Sapa