Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund and his assistant Serame Letsoaka have returned from a ‘very successful’ visit to England where they had gone to build on a healthy working relationship with various club managers.
The trip, according to Igesund, yielded positive results in that both Dean Furman (Oldham Athletic) and Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace) have been given green light by their respective clubs to report for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations camp at the same time as the South African-based players.
Both Igesund and Letsoaka met with Furman and Dikgacoi’s club managers and were also able to watch the latter in action.
“I would describe the trip as a very successful one as we have managed to secure the early release of these two key players. We went there to build on a relationship with the club managers and we achieved exactly that.
“Dikgacoi will miss two matches during that period they are joining us early, but somewhere down the line we will return the favour to the club by not calling both players for one or two matches,” said Igesund.
“One week in camp early is brilliant for the team. We hope the entire squad to be in camp by 1 January as opposed to the 6th.”
During their time in England, the two visited South Africa-born Andrew Surman of Norwich City to check on his availability for the national team.
“I believe he didn’t show us the interest and passion we had expected to play for Bafana Bafana. We got the feeling that he is not ready to commit to us so we will not be pursuing that mission anymore,” said Igesund.
“We also had an opportunity to visit former Bafana Bafana captain Steven Pienaar who recently retired from the national team. All we did was to have coffee with him as I promised we would, we did not even talk about his retirement.”
Igesund and Letsoaka also took time out to catch up with Leeds striker Davide Somma.
“He is back in training and has already played two games in the reserve side but we made it clear to him that he is in a race against time to book his place in the final 23 for Afcon. We told him to fight for his place in the Leeds squad and not just be a fringe player.
“He must play well to be considered; the same goes for all the other injured players or those working their way back to fitness,” added the head coach.
After the Nelson Mandela Challenge clash against Zambia, Igesund is hoping to visit Belgium, Greece and Holland among other places to also negotiate the early release of players based in those countries.
The Bafana coach is expected home this morning (Saturday, 10 November) and will go into camp with Bafana Bafana on Sunday, 11 November.