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Football | Bafana Bafana

Gordon Igesund © Backpagepix

Gordon's team remains top secret



Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says he has intentionally kept his intended starting line-up a mystery ahead of South Africa's opening Africa Cup of Nations match against Cape Verde Islands.

Igesund said on Thursday he would reveal his starting XI only at the National Stadium on Saturday, after Bafana played three warm-up games in preparation for the African showpiece.

“I've had to be very careful in how I've done things in the run-up to this tournament," Igesund said.

"Obviously I wanted to play a certain team, I wanted to see certain things.

“If I've gone about it in a way you guys (the media) didn't like, maybe I foxed you as well, who knows. I've had to keep my starting lineup and opposition guessing.”

A variety of players ran out for Bafana in friendly matches against Zambia, Malawi and Algeria.

Igesund said he was equally unaware of who would be turning out for Cape Verde in their first Group A match.

“I would also love to know their starting XI, because when you know exactly the starting 11, it's very easy to prepare against a team.

“If I've thrown a few curveballs here and there, I've had to do it.

"We couldn't go out there and say, 'this is the team to play Cape Verde,' so they could have a look at our team and see how we are going to play against them. I couldn't do that.”

While there were a number of changes to the team in their warm-up matches – of which they won one, drew one and lost one – Igesund said he had played the bulk of his side as a unit in the build-up.

“The team has been played out there a couple of times – one or two players different. You'll see the team on Saturday.”

He was confident the hosts were ready for the opening match, and subsequent group games against Morocco and Angola.

“We're well prepared and ready for this tournament," Igesund said.

"The players, when they play in front of 90 000 people, they're very excited about that. The guys are all fighting now and ready for this.

"We've got information on all the Cape Verde players and we're aware of them.”

While there were reports ahead of the tournament that cast a negative light on the organisation, dominated by poor ticket sales and a weak marketing campaign, Igesund said the players had always believed they could lift the trophy for the first time since 1996.

“Our mindset has always been very positive. The players around me are very positive.

"Time obviously is a factor for everybody, for me, for other coaches worldwide. They only get the players for a short space of time.

"But we are well prepared. We're ready for this tournament now.”

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