Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund has called on the South African fans to rally behind the national team ahead of a crucial Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Botswana on Saturday, 7 September.
The 15h30 clash will be played at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
With the players given the afternoon off on Monday (2 September) upon their arrival in Durban, preparations for the match started in earnest on Tuesday morning (3 September) at People’s Park, next to the match venue. There will be another training session in the afternoon.
Four overseas-based players, Kamogelo Mokotjo and Thulani Serero (both Holland) as well as Anele Ngcongca and Darren Keet (both Belgium) are expected to join their teammates at the first training session.
Bafana Bafana’s fate is not in their hands as qualification into the next round of qualifiers is heavily dependent on the results of the Group A clash between Central Africa Republic (CAR) and Ethiopia in Brazzaville. The match will be played simultaneously as that of South Africa and Botswana.
Bafana must beat Botswana and hope for a favourable result in the match between Ethiopia and CAR. Botswana can also go through should they beat Bafana Bafana and Ethiopia lose.
Igesund emphasised that they are thinking of nothing but victory.
“We are going to be very attack-minded on Saturday, because any result other than a win will not help our cause. The players we have for the match are all on top of their game. It is a lovely situation that I find myself. That gives me a healthy headache as to who I will leave out but I will make those tough decisions over the next few days,” said Igesund.
“I am confident we will get a positive result but at the same time I will be absolutely gutted if we win the game and we do not qualify. I do not need to motivate the players because they are well aware of what is needed. This game has become very important to us.”
The Bafana coach added that a full house at Moses Mabhida Stadium would go a long way in motivating the players.
“We need all the support we can get on Saturday and we want to have that vibe that will give the players a boost to do well. I also need to point out that our supporters must be with us through thick and thin and unite when the national team plays. We have had situations before where fans support by virtue of which players have been selected – if more Pirates players are selected then we have more Pirates supporters to support us, or the same goes for Swallows or Ajax, we should refrain from that and put club allegiance aside. At the end of the day all these players are representing us as a nation,” said Igesund.
Igesund’s sentiments were echoed by his captain Itumeleng Khune, who added that the players are looking forward to the encounter.
“All the players are confident, and we are highly motivated and looking forward to a great match. We cannot afford to take Botswana lightly because they are a good side with a lot of their players based here in South Africa. It is going to be an interesting match because they will want to prove a point. For us, as the home team, we have to win the game convingcly by also playing good football. This will be a great match,” said Khune.