Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund said he was highly impressed by the two international friendly matches his side played last week in a space of three days.
South Africa lost 2-0 to Nigeria in the 19 th edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban before turning on the style to beat Africa Cup of Nations runners up Burkina Faso 2-0 in the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Against the Burkinabe, Igesund fielded only local-based players, handing caps to defender Marc van Heerden of Amazulu, Mamelodi Sundowns forward Bongani Zungu and Supersport United midfielder David Mathebula, while Luyolo Nomandela of Free State Stars earned his first cap against Nigeria.
“Compared to the match in Durban, against Burkina Faso we passed the ball better, made better decisions and got involved more. I am also happy that we are creating plenty of chances and I know we could have scored more than the two goals but it is work in progress. The attitude of the players was really good today, hence we dominated the match the way we did,” said Igesund.
The South African squad for the two matches also included the players that made their Bafana Bafana debut at last month’s COSAFA CUP tournament held in Zambia - Tshepo Gumede, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Lebogang Manyama.
“I think we got a lot out of the last two games (Nigeria and Burkina Faso). I was able to look at a few players and I got a good idea of where we are with certain players. I must admit several of them really put their hands up to say they want to be part of the Bafana Bafana set-up going forward. I think it is going to be tough for players to be selected into future squad because the pool is becoming bigger and better,” said Igesund.
“I am glad we had this exercise because we now know more about the players than we did before the matches. There is still a lot of work ahead, still room for improvement but at least I now have a good idea about their character, their strengths and weaknesses.”
Bafana Bafana’s next match is against Botswana in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
It will be played on Saturday, 7 September at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“This is a very crucial match, and I am never a negative person. We know we must just go out there and win our match and who knows maybe the dice will roll for us because we are not in charge of the result of the clash between CAR and Ethiopia. But yes, I am hoping for a CAR win for our benefit,” said the head coach.