Igesund wants aggressive and attack-minded Bafana
BAFANA Bafana want to hustle Poland in their own back-yard in tonight's tough international friendly here.
After a worthy 1-0 defeat against Brazil and a less impressive 2-0 win against Mozambique in his first two matches, Bafana coach Gordon Igesund faces a stern test tonight.
Igesund's defensive emphasis has been not to allow Poland to play the way they want to at the 58000-seater Stadion Narodowy, which is expected to be near-full.
Igesund wants his players to be in the Poles' faces, while in attack continuing the more aggressive, direct style Igesund seeks from the national team. Poland disappointed with their exit in the first round of Euro 2012 as hosts in June.
They have grown in strength in the first three matches under Waldemar Fornalik, who replaced Franciszek Smuda as coach, losing 1-0 to Estonia before a draw away against Montenegro and a 2-0 home win against Moldova.
This might have been one match that Igesund never really wanted Bafana to play, preferring to meet strong African opposition in the build-up to the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in January.
In hindsight the game against tough European opposition, and even the cold conditions (temperatures in Warsaw have hovered around 4-6ºC at night), could turn out to be just the right fit for Bafana as Igesund tries to panel-beat a squad into shape for the Afcon.
"I think that the opposition is going to be very tough. We're playing under difficult conditions, very different to African football," Igesund said yesterday.
"It's always great to play against a top European country. There's no doubt Poland have got world-class players.
"We maybe could have got African opposition, but I doubt they would have been strong enough because most of African teams are involved in Afcon qualifiers. This game is going to give us that test we need to see how far we've come."
Poland are a more competitive team than their 54th ranking suggests. Key players are the Borussia Dortmund pair of striker Robert Lewandowski and midfielder Lukasz Piszczek.
Fornalik's squad contains no locally based players, with the Poles plying their trade in top European leagues such as Holland, France, Germany and Spain.
The Polish coach might opt for a mixed-strength combination looking ahead to Tuesday's far more important World Cup qualifier against England.
Bafana look set to give Poland a tough game. There is a new energy in the squad. Igesund has selected players on form - a youngster such as Dino Ndlovu was able to start against Brazil and there has been a call-up for Delron Buckley, 34.
Additions such as Dean Furman and Slovakia-based Ricardo Nunes, who has impressed with his set pieces in training, have excited the Bafana players.
In the first Bafana match since the international retirement of Steven Pienaar, Igesund said he was undecided between Lerato Chabangu and Sifiso Myeni for right forward in his 4-3-3 formation.
Bernard Parker's goals for Kaizer Chiefs should see him at central striker, though he might also fill a playmaker role behind Ndlovu.
Siphiwe Tshabalala at left forward and Furman and Kagiso Dikgacoi in central midfield are obvious choices.
So are Nunes at left-back, and Siyabonga Sangweni and Bongani Khumalo in central defence.
Thabo Nthethe is likely to start at right-back.
Kick-off is at 8.45pm, live on SABC1.