Long-awaited win lifts mood in Bafana camp ahead of crucial Morocco clash

2013-01-25 00:00

BAFANA Bafana’s 2-0 Afcon win against Angola in Durban on Wednesday has lifted the nation. There’s a definite air of relief, mixed with confidence and a steely determination around Durban as the squad prepare for Sunday’s final Group A match against Morocco.

Yesterday, coach Gordon Igesund and the players from the Angola clash enjoyed a relaxing day in the scorching Durban heat, undertaking a light workout with spinning and ice baths at the human performance institute at Moses Mabhida stadium, while those who had not played were on the outfield for a training session.

The mood was upbeat. Igesund and his charges were friendly, welcoming the press and happy to engage in banter and interviews. The win has broken the frustration and given a glimpse of what can be achieved, the thought of progressing to the final not as far-fetched as it once seemed.

Igesund’s five changes from the dull opening encounter against Cape Verde worked a treat, particularly with Dean Furman commanding the midfield. Chatting to fans in Durban, it was clear Furman’s inclusion had hit the mark. “He was good and he moved the ball forward. He passes the ball and brings other players into the game,” was one comment.

Furman himself was happy to be on the pitch and be part of a winning side. “Winning and getting the three points is what counts. The team was outstanding and played great soccer… Up front we attacked hard with dynamic, quick play, while the back four were superb, completely snuffing out anything Angola could offer,” he said.

The scorer of Bafana’s second goal, Lehlohonolo Majoro, knew his strike sealed the match.

“It’s great to be ahead but at 1-0, anything can still happen and the opposition can get back into the game. My goal gave us a cushion, meaning Angola had to do twice the work to get close to us. It was a massive improvement from our first match, where I think the expectation to win was our downfall rather than being nervous. We know what we can do now and face Morocco where nothing but a win will suffice,” he said.

Katlego Mphela was relaxed, happy with what had been achieved and where the team found themselves. Said Mphela: “We are where we want to be, topping the group. We are thinking of nothing less than a win against Morocco and it’s up to them to work out a plan to beat us.”

The biggest smile of all was Igesund’s. “Durban has always been a happy hunting ground for Bafana and the support definitely carried us through. From the first whistle there was singing and noise, passion that drove us to success. We definitely want to stay in Durban by beating Morocco and topping the group.

“I have studied Morocco and they are a balanced side that shows character. They have to make the play against us and that could count in our favour.

“However, I am focusing on our game-plan and I already know how we will play against them. They have nothing to lose and we are definitely going for a win. Playing for a draw is dangerous ground and we have done our homework,” he said.

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