Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has spoken about how his team is slowly getting into shape adding he will continue to monitor eligible South African players plying their trade abroad.
The Bafana mentor said his ultimate goal is to make Bafana world beaters. Below is the full interview.
Question: Coach, where to from here?
Answer: This is a process and at the moment, the intention is to continue looking for eligible players that are doing well both in the domestic league and abroad. What I have pleasantly realised of late is that now all players now appreciate that they need to play and do well for their clubs for them to make it into the national team. Most of them have developed an excellent attitude and this can only bode well for our AFCON 2013 roadmap.
Q: What positives have you taken from the two weeks on the road in matches against Brazil and Mozambique?
A: First of all, the match against Brazil was outstanding considering the players had only trained for three days together. The dedication they showed was marvellous. That is the commitment I expect from any player who puts on the national jersey. What impressed me most was that a couple of new faces really showed potential and put a claim for the national team. To show how great the boys played in Brazil was the fact that the very same Brazil that needed a late winner against us beat China 8-0 three days later; so this was a really good building block. And getting a positive result against Mozambique was very encouraging.
Q: Which players are you eyeing overseas?
A: It is very important to have a look at all players eligible to play for South Africa playing abroad that can add value to Bafana. I am not looking at a particular player but anyone that can catch my attention; players like Ricardo Nunez playing somewhere in Slovakia and Andrew Surman of Norwich to mention a few. There are plenty of players across the World who qualifies to play for South Africa. I still believe though that a good chunk of players in the national team should come from South Africa. It is important to understand that not all players that play overseas qualify (material wise) to play for Bafana. We have our own top players plying their trade locally. Only if the overseas player is better than we have at home, will he be called up.
Q: Which African country are you impressed with most and do you think this squad has what it takes to conquer Africa?
A: There are several top quality footballing countries in Africa, namely Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal and of course the one we all want to be the best, South Africa. Let’s not forget Egypt who will not be here as they have been eliminated. If the boys continue with the positive attitude, we really can go places including conquering Africa of course.
Q: Will you continue to rotate goalkeepers?
A: It is very important to note that I am not a coach who believes in a rotation system. I want to put out in every game my best 11 players. Right now, Khune (Itumeleng), at this very moment is top class and if we were playing a qualifying match today, Khune will be in the starting line up. But having said that, he (Khune) just like any other player knows, there is fierce competition to be in the starting 11.
Q: How is your technical team fitting in with your philosophy?
A: I think Tommy (Thomas Madigage) and Serame (Letsoaka) are both excellent individuals and I think our working relationship and understanding could not be better. There is no doubt in my mind that together we can make Bafana a force to be reckoned with.
Q: What is your ideal preparation going into AFCON tournament?
A: My preparation so far is going on very well. I am getting great support from SAFA and Premier Soccer League. One needs to remember that not only in South Africa but worldwide, national team coaches don’t always get the players all the time when they want them. One needs to remember we have a very professional domestic league running and that has lots and lots of implications for sponsors, television rights; so we can’t just cancel games at any given time just like that. We all have responsibilities to make sure that all parties are happy. Again I want to emphasise that both SAFA and PSL are working harmoniously to make sure we have a successful Bafana.
Q: What do you think of some self-styled critics who have been on your case?
A: We live in a democratic country with freedom of expression so people are entitled to their own opinions.
Q: What role do you think the nation (supporters) can play in the success of Bafana?
A: I think at the moment there is a great vibe in the country regarding our national team and I know when this team goes into the field and there are 60 000 people blowing their vuvuzelas and rally behind the boys, we will be very difficult to beat especially at home. This is your team and together we can really make this happen.
Q: Are you afraid of making unpopular decisions?
A: No; I am not afraid to make unpopular decisions. What is unpopular for some may not be for others.