Igesund wants best team for Mandela games

By Drum Digital
02 August 2013

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said he will select his strongest available squad for the forthcoming home fixtures against African champions Nigeria and Burkina Faso later this month.

“I'm happy to say both the PSL and Safa have confirmed the whole week of the August 14 will be a Fifa one, so I'm going to be able to get whoever I want for both games,” he said at the launch of the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Friday.

“The opposition are the champions of Africa and then, a few days later, we player the runners-up, Burkina Faso, so we have a wonderful two days to look forward to.”

His comments come after the recent withdrawal of players for the Cosafa Cup last month, where a depleted South Africa eventually finished third behind Zambia and Zimbabwe.

He did not expect club coaches to have any qualms over his selection, despite the premier league season's kick-off this weekend.

“I don't think the PSL coaches are really moaning,” Igesund said.

“We've taken a lot of time and energy to build the relationship we have right now and, I think for the first time in a long while, the PSL and Safa and the coaches are all working closely together.

“I've never had an issue or problem with any of them regarding releasing players on Fifa dates. On non-Fifa dates, we understand that we can't expect to have the players. So there's a good understanding.”

The match against Nigeria was set for August 14.

Bafana were due to play the Burkinabe in Johannesburg three days later, as part of the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day celebrations where the Springboks would also play Argentina in a unique national double header at FNB Stadium.

Igesund also revealed he was likely to select some players from the Cosafa Cup squad after they had impressed.

“I thought there were quite a few players who did really well and there will be a few in the team for that game against Nigeria,” he said.

The Nigerians announced a strong squad for the clash earlier this week, among them Afcon top-scorer Emmanuel Emenike.

“We're honouring the great Nelson Mandela and (Nigeria coach) Stephen Keshi will be bringing a very formidable team, which shows how much respect the rest of the world has for the man,” Igesund said.

“They've selected a really good team and it's going to be a fantastic challenge for us.”

Both matches will give the national team vital preparation time ahead of their crunch World Cup qualifier against Botswana, in Durban on September 7.

"When I heard the Nelson Mandela Challenge will be taking place here, I was very pleased because it will be a nice dress rehearsal for the game against Botswana," Igesund said.

Bafana Bafana must win the game and hope group leaders Ethiopia either lose or draw away to Central African Republic to keep their 2014 World Cup hopes alive.

-Sapa

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