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A win against Mali is crucial - Igesund

Written By Themba Khumalo on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 | Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund has emphasised that the team needs nothing but a win against Mali to increase their chances of qualifying for the next round of the 2014 CHAN tournament.

South Africa takes on Mali on Wednesday, 15 January at the Cape Town Stadium. Kick-off is at 17h00.

“It is very important for us to go to the match with Nigeria in a very comfortable position. There is a strong possibility that three teams could end on six points each and we don’t want that situation. We cannot worry about what other teams are doing, but can only worry about what we can control. The players know, and I made it very clear that we have to beat Mali and we will see what happens in the other game – if they end up in a draw the better for us,” said Igesund.

“But we don’t want to go that far ahead (into the Nigeria match). We take each game as it comes and after Mali we will think of Nigeria – but tomorrow we will be ready for the game. It should be a tough one but I am quite confident because even though we started slowly I believe we will get stronger and stronger.”

Much has been made of the physical nature of Mali’s game, but the Bafana Bafana mentor has a plan.

“We are playing against a very good and physical team so we have been working hard on keeping the ball, making quick passes because we don’t want to get into a tussle with them as we will come off second best. We need to be clever and use the ball well and need to be more penetrative than we were in the first match (against Mozambique). So the mission is very clear – we have to get a result in this game so we know where we are,” added Igesund.

“Our tactics will change from our clash with Mozambique. We cannot allow Mali free play in the middle of the park because they are a very good side and if they can get a chance they will finish us off. I was quite surprised how impressive Mali was against Nigeria, which indicates we have our work cut out for us. I am contemplating making changes to the playing personnel because this is a totally different game. I want to have a bit more pace going forward but those changes will be completely tactical.”

Igesund has also thanked the supporters for coming in numbers to back Bafana Bafana.

“I would like to thank the people of Cape Town and we all know the support here has always been wonderful. It is lovely when you walk onto the pitch and you see so many fans in the stands, it is nice to be appreciated and we owe it to them to keep on performing. I just hope our performance against Mozambique will encourage them to come back tomorrow against Mali. I also thank those who supported the team even those from outside Cape Town, we are really grateful,” concluded Igesund.

Bafana Bafana have completed their preparations for the game against Mali. The squad has a clean bill of health.

Meanwhile, Nigeria will face Mozambique later in another Group A at the same venue, kick-off at 20h00.

- SAFA
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