Changes expected as Bafana shift focus

2013-03-01 16:32

Head coach Gordon Igesund says there will be some changes to the Bafana Bafana squad as they shift their focus from the recently concluded Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament to the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

South Africa reached the Afcon quarterfinals, where they were ousted by Mali on penalties, but Igesund said today the challenges they faced in the tournament would not hinder their approach to the qualifiers for the next global showpiece in Brazil.

“There will be a couple of changes. When you pick a team for a tournament you have to cover all your bases,” Igesund said.

“But picking a team for a once-off match, you can have luxury in certain departments, like I don’t need too much cover in defence.

“During Afcon I had two players for every position, and unfortunately I can only make three substitutions, so it is pointless to have six players as cover. The team will be a lot more offensive.”

Igesund, taking charge of his first qualifying match since he took the reins of the side in June last year, hoped they could build on their momentum from the continental tournament when they face Central African Republic (CAR) in Cape Town on March 23.

Bafana are third in Group A with two points – two adrift of leaders Ethiopia, and one behind second-placed CAR. Botswana are lying bottom of the table with one point.

“The players are on a high at the moment and we need to continue from where we left off,” Igesund said.

“The vibe around this team is very positive and I want to maintain that spirit.

“We lost to Mali on penalties, and I can safely say we ended the tournament unbeaten in 90 minutes in four matches.

“Having said that, I think the players have learnt a lot from this tournament, and I think in the short space of time we had, the players adapted very well.

“I am thrilled with the way they responded, but also there are a few areas that we need to fix.”

He admitted they should have been in a stronger position, following draws against Ethiopia and Botswana last year, and Igesund said there was a long road ahead for the national side as they aimed to book their place in the World Cup finals.

“We are not in a good position in the qualifiers. We have played two games and are sitting on two points when we should have more than that.

“We have dropped four huge points and are left with four games, so we are basically playing catch up. We are in a situation where we almost have to win every game.

“We are starting from the bottom in respect of points that we should have gained. If we had one win and a draw it would have made a huge difference.

“We also understand that qualifying for the World Cup is huge for us, and if we had those extra points it would be a different story, so we can’t afford to lose, that is the bottom line.”

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