Our fate is in our hands - Igesund

Friday, January 17, 2014

Pretoria - Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund says the fate of his squad advancing to the last eight of the CHAN 2014 tournament is in their hands.

The CHAN tournament hosts are facing an uphill battle against Nigeria in their last group A match to be played at Cape Town Stadium on Sunday, with Mali taking on Mozambique at Athlone Stadium in the other group A match.

Both clashes kick-off at 7pm.

“We are happy with our current position. We have played two matches and have not lost, and also we are still on top of our group.

“I cannot ask for more than that. We are in a very good position and we know what we have to do but it is not going to be an easy game. The passage to the next round is in our hands and the pressure is no different from the first game,” Igesund said.

With four points after two matches, Bafana still top the group with a better goal difference compared to second-placed Mali, who have the same number of points.

Their next West African opponents, the Super Eagles of Nigeria, are one point adrift of the leaders, while Mozambique are yet to collect points.

South Africa and Mali played to a 1-1 draw in their second match of the tournament at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday, while Nigeria beat Mozambique 4-2 to set up an exciting finish to the group stages.

With one match left in the group stages, Mozambique has been eliminated after two losses, leaving South Africa, Mali and Nigeria to contest the two spots in the next round.

Igesund said that while his players have put themselves in a difficult situation, he has a lot of respect for the Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi and his team, but he is confident he is going to do well on the day.

“The only thing is that it would have been nicer not to have this kind of pressure. But then again, that’s what makes this game so exciting, the anxiety of not knowing whether you will qualify or not because if you know, it will mean nothing,” he said.

A draw or a win will see South Africa through, but Igesund is not taking any chances.

“Playing for a draw is the most dangerous thing for any team. You have to go out and play. My philosophy has always been to play to win, but when you start thinking about trying to play for a draw, then you are doing the wrong thing and you end up taking incorrect decisions.

“I cannot compromise my principles, which are to win every match. If the other team scores three, you score four. It has worked for me, so there is no way I will play defensively to get a result. I believe we are good enough a team to win a match the way we should,” he said.

Asked if he is scared of the Nigerians, the Bafana mentor said: “We are not scared of anybody and we can match any team in the tournament.

“We recently beat World and European champions Spain. Why must we be scared of Nigeria? We have a plan.

“We will be offensive against them. We know that Nigeria is going into this game with just one thing in mind and that is to win because a draw is no good for them. They are going to come at us and I will be pleased with that as the match will open up and I back us up in an open game.” - SAnews.gov.za