'Bafana can go all the way to win CHAN'

By Drum Digital
10 January 2014

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has assured the country his team will take nothing for granted in their pursuit of this year's African Nations Championship (Chan) trophy.

South Africa kick-off their campaign against Mozambique on Saturday and a bullish Igesund talked up his team's chances ahead of the weekend's action at Cape Town Stadium.

"It's going to be a tough competition, we are the hosts and I've made it clear that we want to do well in this competition," Igesund said before taking the national team through their paces at a training session in Pinelands.

"We're not being arrogant saying we want to win the Cup, but what we are saying is that we're going to be a very competitive team and I think we can go all the way.

"It's up to the players now to go out there and perform on the day and get the goals we need."

Traditionally a physical threat, Mozambique will ask plenty of questions of Bafana's resolve, but the 57-year-old former Manning Rangers boss felt confident his team would be suitably prepared and ready to battle it out in the group opener.

"We've had some very good training sessions with the team and we will be ready by the time we play our match on Saturday.

"There are a couple of things to tweak here and there, but the spirit in the camp is fantastic. Everybody is very motivated, everyone wants to be in the starting 11 and that's very good for us.

"I've got a very competitive team. They all know that the competition is very fierce in the starting 11."

Meanwhile, Igesund welcomed world soccer body Fifa's decision to classify Chan as a level-A competition, having previously hinted it would not hand out ranking points after the event.

"If you remember, when I announced the team, we spoke about this and I said that there was a very strong chance of Fifa doing this.

"I knew there were negotiations going on between Caf [Confederation of African Football] and Fifa and they wanted to get this tournament recognised as A-level matches."

Winning Chan would make qualification for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) far easier, due to being a seeded team, should the country rank inside the top eight nations on the continent.

As in major competitions, seeded teams avoid each other in the draw and, as a result, Bafana's route to the continental showpiece would be made simpler.

"I'm very pleased that it has happened. In February, we want to be in the top eight of the Africa rankings and we need to do that to be seeded for the draw (for qualification to Afcon 2015)."

Igesund's troops will have a final training session late Friday afternoon, as the team gear-up for their crucial first outing.

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