Johannesburg - For Gordon Igesund, the next few weeks are all about building team spirit and getting the squad to gel as a unit.
Bafana Bafana are currently in camp in Cape Town as they prepare for Tuesday’s friendly match with Norway at the Cape Town Stadium.
Speaking at a press conference after the team’s first training session on Thursday morning (their first since the final squad of 23 was announced), Igesund was in good spirits - happy that he finally has an extended period of time to work with the side.
“The first session was fantastic, it was the first opportunity we have had to have the squad that will be representing us together on the field for the Nations Cup.
“We will be a lot better organised because I have a week to work with the players. The most important thing now is to mould the team to a unit. It’s a great period, to work in the morning, to work in the afternoon, to have chats in the evening.
“Its a very new team, our style of play is going to be totally different to what the players have played before, we have got so many different combinations, so many new players, what’s is important is that we gel, and the more competitive games we get together the more the understanding,” he said.
Igesund revealed that at this point he has an idea of who his starting XI will be, but added that the effort the players are putting in as they try and stake their claim is making it tougher for him.
“The players are giving me a very good headache, they are all performing, they are all fighting. When I had the mini camp with 33 players, they were all fighting to make the cut of 23, now they are fighting for the starting 11."
“I’m close to having a team (in mind) - not only the players, but the way we want to play. And I have picked players who can play in a certain formation,” explained the four-time title winning coach.
Bafana Bafana are drawn alongside Cape Verde, Angola and Morocco in Group A of the finals.
Igesund says he is confident that Norway will provide a good test for his side, pointing out that South Africa’s opposition in the finals are not typical African teams.
“It’s turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Our opposition, Morocco, play a very European style of football, and so does Cape Verde - 21 of their 23 players are in Europe.
“Norway is a very organised team, very physical. Algeria (against whom Bafana will also play a friendly match) as well, they are one of the favourites for this competition, these are fantastic games for us.”