Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said while New Zealand are an exciting young team, full of promising players, he had done his homework and Friday’s match should provide lots of excitement. South Africa take on the All Whites on Friday, 30 May at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. The match is scheduled to kick off at 09:30 SA Time.
“It is going to be an exciting game, make no mistake about it. The pitch is in perfect condition and that is ideal for an electrifying game of football,” said Igesund. The national team mentor said regardless of Friday’s outcome, the Australasia tour had achieved its main objectives. “The most important purpose of the trip was to identify the core of the starting line up going into the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches which commence a month after the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. And I am not going ahead of time by saying 80 percent of the players here will form that team,” said Igesund.
Although dependable defender Thabo Nthethe is a doubtful starter, Igesund said he had enough cover to take care of the setback. There will be a minute of silence before kick off in honour of former All Whites player, Duncan Cole who passed away at the beginning of this week and former Bafana Bafana midfielder Isaac ‘Shakes’ Kungoane who also passed away on Tuesday after a short illness. “That is a good gesture from the New Zealanders to also observe a minute of silence for our beloved Shakes Kungoane. On behalf of the Bafana Bafana team, we all said a prayer for him and for his family. We want to send our deepest condolences to his family, friends, wife and children. May his soul rest in peace,” added Igesund.
Meanwhile, interim All Whites coach Neil Emblen said his side will attack from the word go and has named an offensive starting line up, a day before the game on Friday. Emblen has made two changes from the team which was beaten 4-2 by Japan in March with Vfb Stuttgart striker Marco Rojas and midfielder Chris James replacing Chris Wood and Kosta Barbarouses. The attack will be led by Ryan Thomas who plays his club football in the Dutch league.
“A big focus of ours will be demonstrating we have moved forward from our experience in Japan. We need to eliminate the early mistakes we made in that match and at the same time continue to develop our comfort and composure in possession.”said Emblen. Once those items are ticked off the checklist, Emblen has challenged his exciting young group to play with the energy and purpose which reflects the occasion.
“We haven’t always had regular chances to play at home in front of our fans and our mindset will be to attack and play at a quick tempo but without taking undue risks with the ball. We have a great amount of pace in attacking positions and we want to take advantage of that but not at all costs,” said Emblen.