23 January 2013

South Africa: Mbalula Visits Bafana Ahead of Match

Pretoria — Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula has visited Bafana Bafana at their team hotel in Durban ahead of their crucial Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) clash against Angola in Durban later this afternoon.

This is Bafana Bafana's second match of the competition after they played to a goalless draw in the opening clash against Cape Verde on Saturday.

Speaking to the players, Mbalula, who was accompanied by the President of the South African Football Association (Safa) Kirsten Nematandani said they must be ready to fight and defend the nation to the bitter end.

"Giants emerge out of challenges and difficulties, and even champions emerge out of the same. What separates men from boys is their experience and determination.

"Do what you are supposed to do to the best of your abilities, and what will define the end result of your fight is the score. Everyone supports this team and we believe in you. You have to believe in yourselves," said the minister.

He further said the national team should find courage following the support they are receiving from South Africans.

"Do not surrender because some people perform much better under pressure and they end up doing miracles. Do not be afraid to take responsibilities.

"You are being challenged and I think you have to take the bull by its horns. There is no retreat; you guys have the guts and your God-given talent. Do your best and enjoy the game. Win or lose we are with you," he said.

Nematandani urged the players to go out and make themselves and the country proud.

Addressing the media earlier at the match venue, Moses Mabhida stadium, Bafana Coach Gordon Igesund said: "The best for us is to forget about the previous game. It is behind us now.

"We wanted three points, but we managed to get only one. Everything is in our hands and there is no room for us to panic.

"I am looking for a much-improved performance and a lot of patience from my players, but what I can tell you is that the game is going to be totally different," said Igesund.

The coach said there will be few changes in the team to face Angola. "I really want to bring some positive changes to inject some life into the team because we want to win this match.

"It goes without saying that this is a must-win especially because we dropped two points in our last game. I have been saying that five points will be enough to get us to the next round, but we don't want to leave it to the last match. We need to get the three points now against Angola.

"Every team knows that the second match is a must-win. We don't want to rely on other teams. Everything is in our hands," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the players, skipper Bongani Khumalo said the Angola game was a must win.

"We don't need any motivation for this match. All we need is winning because when you win games everything falls into place. In the process you bring joy to the nation. As professionals we know what we need to do and we have one aim in our minds; that is to win," said Khumalo.

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