Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund believes that a positive outcome against Nigeria in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Wednesday will send a strong message to the continent and the rest of the world.
According to the supersport.com website, the South Africans have often struggled against big-name footballing nations like Nigeria and Igesund said this had to come to an end.
Speaking to the press ahead of the Wednesday encounter, the Bafana coach said this current generation of players is capable of holding its own against any opposition.
“This game is very important for is and I want to go out there and beat Nigeria. I think we are capable of doing that,” said Igesund. “We need to send a message to the rest of the world and now is the time.”
Bafana have not won any major competition in a long while. The 1996 Nations Cup victory remains the only major piece of silverware achieved by the senior football team to date. Hopes were high when SA hosted the 2013 Nations Cup as many thought home ground advantage would propel Bafana to their second continental victory.
But that was never to be as the same Nigeria bulldozed everyone to take the title to Lagos. Bafana were knocked out in the quarterfinals by Mali in penalties after the match had ended 1-1 in extra-time.
Recently Igesund took what could arguably be termed a third-string squad to the 2013 Cosafa Cup and managed a silver plate. The team never conceded in open play throughout the tournament.
Though it must be said they only joined the tournament at the quarterfinal stage. Since readmission into international football in 1992, Bafana Bafana have played 256 matches and won 96 of those. At present, they are ranked 67th in the world; something Igesund has indicated will need to change.
Igesund, the only man to have won four PSL titles with four different teams, knows that Nigeria will not be pushovers, especially as they have brought a team comprised of youth and experience. Nigeria are one of the four teams to have handed Bafana their biggest defeat (4-0) but that was during the early days, soon after readmission.
Meanwhile, team captain, Itumeleng Khune, also believes that a win against Nigerian will go a long way in changing perceptions against Bafana.