24 January 2013

South Africa/Angola: 'We Were Magnificent,' Says Bafana Coach

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
South Africa's Siyabonga Sangweni celebrates the host team's first goal - scored against Angola - at the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

South Africa’s comprehensive 2-0 victory over Angola in their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Group A clash on Saturday saw the country breath a collective sigh of relief.

Obviously the result was crucial for the team, but what was also vital was the manner in which it was achieved.

There was nothing lucky about this win. It was clinical, professional and very well deserved. It was one of the best performances seen by the national side since the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

That will give fans renewed hope that this team can go deep into the tournament and that the horror of the dismal 0-0 draw with Cape Verde is now long in the past.

Of course, one swallow does not a summer make, so they will have to follow it up with another good display against Morocco to ensure their passage into the quarter-finals.

Coach Gordon Igesund should be applauded for the changes he made to the team, bringing in five new starters, all of whom had very good games.

"I said after our last game that this game was a must-win,” Igesund says. “But I felt I had to gamble, I couldn't be scared to lose. I told the players we couldn't be scared to lose and they responded.

"The Cape Verde game was different, we didn't have the commitment, that was the big difference. [Today] We had to just go for it. I told the players to believe, I told them I believe in them. I was confident the back four could do the job, and they did."

Igesund says it was important for his side to keep playing positively when they were 2-0 up and not allow Angola a way back into the game.

"This game is a strange game; you can be 2-0 up and they score, and all of a sudden they're back in it, but we were magnificent. I want to say to the whole team, everyone who went out there today did brilliantly.

"When we scored I was very happy, because we're a tough team to beat. We kept a clean sheet last week, today, and we're looking forward to the next game [against Morocco on Sunday].

South Africa need just a draw against the Moroccans to advance, but could also do so with a defeat if Cape Verde and Angola play out a stalemate in their final pool match.

At least Bafana’s destiny is in their own hands and they are not relying on others. That is all they really could have asked for at this stage.

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