Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund is confident his side will get off to a good start when South Africa kicks off their Orange CAF African Nations Championship (South Africa CHAN 2014) campaign against Mozambique on Saturday, 7 January 2014.
The match takes place at the Cape Town Stadium with an 18h00 kick-off.
South Africa’s preparations did not start off smoothly with the release of players for national duty a thorny issue. But Igesund is adamant his side will overcome that.
“Yes the preparations were not ideal but I have a strong belief that all that will be forgotten when the players run onto the field. I am very happy with the week, we had good training sessions so it is all systems go for our clash against Mozambique. I know the players are ready and hungry to play this game. I have a smile on my face so I am satisfied with what I saw from my players,” said Igesund.
The tournament is now fully recognised by FIFA which means players will be awarded caps and there are points at stake to help with the rankings.
“We are also happy that FIFA recognises it as an A category tournament and if we do well we can get seeded when the time comes but I believe we are ready for this event. I think it is important that this event is now rated highly by the world football governing body and we must bear in mind that the other teams that are here were not invited but they had to qualify to be here. So it is a tough tournament and every match played is crucial because there is a lot at stake,” added the Bafana Bafana mentor.
“Any match played internationally is important. There are no more friendly matches because no team wants to let their nation down, and the players are well aware of that. They also know the importance of winning the first game – it will settle a lot of nerves with us and the supporters and also get a good vibe going forward, so it is imperative that we get off to a good start against Mozambique.”
The Bafana Bafana coach adds that he knows what the opposition will offer but that cannot count for much as every match is different.
“I don’t think you can take much from their previous matches that I have seen on DVDs, especially from what I saw from their qualifier against Angola to come to this tournament where they drew 1-1. There are only 10 players in their current squad that played in that match so it is very different from then as they have included new players since then. So they are a little of a closed book to us but I know about 60 percent of their team,” adds Igesund.
“I must emphasise though that I am focussing on our team, on what we have to do. We will plough back what we have been doing over the last few days and whatever they do they have to cope with us.“
In the other Group A match Nigeria will face Mozambique, also at the Cape Town Stadium.
That match kicks off at 21h00.