Pitso thrilled as Bafana surge
Johannesburg - South African national coach Pitso Mosimane heaped praise on PSL club coaches as well as the South African Football Association (SAFA) hierarchy for their supportive roles that has seen the national team moving to the 39th spot in the world and fifth in Africa.
In the latest rankings released by FIFA on Wednesday morning, Bafana Bafana had moved seven places thanks largely to their historic 1-0 triumph over Egypt during the African Nations qualifier at Ellis Park a couple of weeks ago.
“This is simply amazing,” said Mosimane. “I mean, a few months ago we were ranked 88th in the world. But now to be 39th is something very humbling and it shows that we have a vision and if we keep walking along the same path, we will achieve our objectives.”
Mosimane boldly revealed that the objective was to become the number one ranked team in Africa and to achieve this he intends challenging Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, some of the teams that are ranked higher than Bafana.
“We have already beaten Ghana, currently ranked number one in Africa. We have also defeated Egypt and I think the logical thing now is to go for Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, the two other teams that are ranked above us.
“However, we must not get too excited. We must acknowledge this rapid upward movement and appreciate the support that we have received from SAFA, the PSL as well as most of the media houses in the country. A lot of the media practitioners have been very supportive and positive in their write-ups and this has encouraged people to come to our matches.
“And the decision by the PSL to give us additional days in preparing for the match against Egypt has been spot-on and highly appreciated. It shows that if we pull together as various stakeholders in the game there is a lot that we can achieve.”
But while Bafana Bafana are celebrating their upward movement in the FIFA rankings, neighbours Botswana must be wondering what more they need to do in order to improve their position as they remain unbeaten in official and friendly games and in their last fixture defeated Chad 1-0 in Nd’jamena, but dropped two places down to 69.
Mosimane, meanwhile, in explaining the ranking improvement, said he always reminds his players about the importance of wearing that gold and green jersey. And once players accepted the significance of wearing the national jersey, the results would be obvious to everyone like it is the case right now.
He also stressed that he was happy that most of his national team players are now seeing game time. Kagisho Dikgacoi and Bongani Khumalo played the full 90 minutes for their respective teams Crystal Palace and Preston North End in Championship matches on Tuesday evening.
“I sat down with the players and I made it clear to them that it serves no purpose sitting on the bench at Fulham or Tottenham Hotspur while you could be putting enough game time under your belt elsewhere and I am happy that they have moved to clubs where they are playing regularly,” Mosimane said.