Durban – South Africa coach Gordon Igesund concedes that the recent criticism of Bafana Bafana was warranted, but has hailed the soccer team's Africa Cup of Nations win over Angola in Durban on Wednesday.
Goals in either half by defender Siyabonga Sangweni and substitute striker Lehlohonolo Majoro helped the hosts breeze to a 2-0 victory at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, where a crowd of nearly 50,000 was treated to a convincing display.
After a disappointing, goalless draw against Cape Verde Islands at the opening of the tournament in Johannesburg at the weekend, the win was the perfect response from Igesund’s men and helped them to move to the top of Group A.
“I don’t think the criticism we’ve been receiving has been unjustified,” Igesund said after the victory. We weren't scoring goals and just have to bounce back. These are tough situations, but ones that make us stronger.”
Igesund showed clear relief when Sangweni expertly volleyed home at the back post on the half-hour mark.
The opening goal ended a run of five hours during which Bafana Bafana failed to find the back of the net: they also failed to score in pre-tournament warm-up matches against Norway and Algeria.
“When we scored the first goal, I was very happy because, as I said before, we're going to be a difficult team to beat,” said Igesund.
“We kept a clean sheet last week and again today. The defenders played well again, even though some of them have come in for criticism. So it was great for us to come through with a win.
“Everyone was magnificent, from those that started to the players on the bench.”
He was also relieved that his gamble of making five changes, most of them in attacking positions, had also paid off.
“I said very clearly after our last game that this game was a must win situation. Obviously today I gambled. We had to just go for it and I was even prepared to lose.
“I told the players to believe. I told them I believe in them. I was confident they would do the job and they did. We hope this will now help to get the momentum going.”
To guarantee a place in the last eight, Bafana must now at least draw with Morocco, who drew with Cape Verde in the late match on Wednesday, in their final game in Durban on Sunday.
“We don't want to get too excited. It’s only one win,” said Igesund.
“I think we are at the stage of the competition where we have to focus on our next game. We are by no means are in the clear. We have a job to do still and we’ll concentrate now on our next game against Morocco.”
Midfielders Kagisho Dikgacoi (knee) and Lerato Chabangu (groin) are both facing a race against time to be fit for that game.
A fresh injury worry for the South Africans is Majoro. The Kaizer Chiefs striker, who came on as a replacement in the 58th minute, picked up a leg injury late in the game and received seven stitches. – Sapa