Igesund says Bafana are on the right track
South Africa’s 2-1 victory over Kenya on Tuesday proved the team was making strides in the build-up to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament, according to Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund.
Tokelo Rantie scored in the 20th minute to put the tourists ahead in their international friendly in Nairobi, and while Kenya hit back with a second-half penalty through captain Dennis Oliechi, the South Africans were saved by an own goal from Christopher Wekesa with 14 minutes left in the match.
“It was a very difficult win for us, and the pitch was not that playable, but it’s in such conditions that will help us mentally,” Igesund said after picking up his first away win in charge of the national team.
“We played the percentage game and the not the beautiful game and we pushed them to make mistakes.
“The boys showed a lot of character. I'm not overly excited with the win, but the effort, performance and attitude was great.”
Igesund believed there was still work to do ahead of the continental tournament which will be hosted by South Africa in January and February.
“We are not there yet. We still need to play as a unit,” Igesund said.
“I am just disappointed with the goal we conceded. We should not allow teams to score goals like that.
“But overall it was a good exercise in terms of what we set out to do.
“I would say at the moment we are about 75% of where we should be.
“We are taking good strides forward and I was happy with the passion of the players. There are still about five or six players that I want to have a look at and then maybe my squad for Afcon will be complete.”
Midfielder Dean Furman, who would have impressed the coach with his performance, said the team adjusted well to the difficult conditions.
“We came here, and the pitch was not what some of the boys are used to, but we had a game plan and the boys stuck to that very well,” Furman said.
“I think we got the result we deserved. It was difficult to play our natural game where we want to get the ball down and play and make nice movements and one-twos, so we had a different type of game plan today and it worked for us.”
Furman believed the squad had made progress under Igesund, who took over from former Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane in June.
“We’ve had a lot of travelling over the last couple of months to Brazil, back to South Africa, then to Poland and now to Kenya,” Furman said.
“In a short space of time we’re coming together really well and obviously we’re building for the Afcon around the corner.”
The Oldham Athletic player, who made his debut in a friendly international against Brazil last month, was pleased to be involved in the national setup.
“It’s a great group of lads that have made me feel welcome from the moment I came in,” Furman said.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself. It’s very surreal. It was my dream to play for my country and I’m very proud.
“I was lucky to have my family with me in Poland (last week) and it was a great moment for all of us.
“I just keep enjoying every moment I’m with the squad and I hope I can have many more opportunities.”