Bafana can qualify - Igesund
Johannesburg - New national football coach Gordon Igesund is confident Bafana Bafana will book their place at the 2014 Soccer World Cup, despite picking up only two points in their first two qualifying matches.
“At the moment we’re sitting in a difficult position - we’ve lost four points - but I honestly still believe we can qualify,” Igesund said on Thursday at The New Age business briefing in Sandton.
Igesund was appointed last week as a replacement for Pitso Mosimane after a string of poor results, including successive qualifying-round draws against Ethiopia and Botswana.
While he admitted the players had lost confidence in their ability to score goals, Igesund believed they could achieve the lofty targets set by the SA Football Association (SAFA).
He was mandated by SAFA to take the national team to the World Cup in Brazil, and to reach the semi-finals of next year’s Africa Cup of Nations, to be hosted by South Africa.
“The players need more confidence, but I know we can go on and win things,” Igesund said.
“We need to bring African flair back into our game and play winning football. We also need national support. Bafana Bafana is an asset to South Africa and we all need to pull together.
“If we do these things we can be very successful. It will be a tough task, but we can do it.” Igesund believed the national team had plenty of potential, but needed to identify their strengths and use them to their advantage.
“We have skill and agility which a lot of other countries don’t have. We need to identify our own style of football.”
Bafana played eight straight matches without a win, eventually breaking their drought with a 3-0 victory over Gabon, under interim coach Steve Komphela, in a friendly match in Nelspruit last month.
With Siyabonga Nomvethe recalled for their opening World Cup qualifiers, in an effort to find the back of the net, Igesund said another veteran striker, Benni McCarthy, could make a return to the national side.
“Benni McCarthy was outstanding for Orlando Pirates last season, and he scored important goals” Igesund said.
“The question is, will he reproduce that form? We need to pick players on form. I have no doubt that Benni will try very hard, and every player will be considered if they are in top form.”
SAFA CEO Robin Petersen, meanwhile, said the governing body aimed to raise the standard of the game throughout the country.
They had set a target at a recent symposium to have all national teams - including women and age groups teams - ranked among the best on the continent.
“We need to be consistently in the top three in Africa and the top 20 in the world,” Petersen said.
“If we can do that, not only with Bafana Bafana, but with all our teams, we believe at SAFA we will have done our job.”