17 January 2013

South Africa: Bafana Captain Believes Home Support Will Be Crucial

Bafana Bafana captain, Bongani Khumalo believes home support will play a pivotal role if the hosts are to have a successful AFCON 2013 campaign.

The National Team has one last training session left before the start of the 29th Edition of the Orange Africa Cup of Nations South Africa 2013 where they meet Cape Verde in the opening match of the tournament on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at the National Stadium in Nasrec, just outside Soweto.

The match kicks off at 18h00.

Good news in the camp is that midfield kingpin Kagisho Dikgacoi has returned to full training after missing out two days on Monday and Tuesday. He joined the rest of his teammates on Wednesday and finished Thursday's session without any complaints.

Captain Khumalo told a packed media conference that home support will work for the team.

"That is the advantage you have when you are playing on home soil; you have the fans right there with you every minute of the game and on behalf of the team I would like to thank all the supporters who have come out to support us, we appreciate the faith and the confidence they have shown in us.

"The atmosphere South African supporters always create is world class and absolutely unbelievable, and it can inspire every player to go beyond his potential, so coming to this game on Saturday with 90 000 fans is very special. You never know when you will have this opportunity again and we want to make the most of it," said Khumalo.

Head coach Gordon Igesund believes the tournament is motivation enough for the players to do well.

"Playing for your country in front of a full house in the opening game of AFCON is enough to push the players to deliver. Everybody is excited about that and they are jumping out of their skin to get onto the field, I believe they are ready for this," said Igesund.

As for pressure, the Bafana Bafana mentor says it is part of the game.

"There is pressure for every single coach in this tournament. If there is a coach who tells you he is not under pressure, he is not telling the truth. But it is the kind of pressure that we can handle, the type that is exciting, the type of pressure that you are hosting the tournament and you want to do well and make the country proud," he added.

Bafana Bafana will have their last training session on Friday, 18 January at Orlando Stadium in Soweto starting at 11h00.

Meanwhile, South Africa has moved two places up on the Coca Cola FIFA World Rankings released on Thursday (17 January). Bafana Bafana is now placed 85th in the world and 22nd on the continent.

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