Bafana not feeling the pressure
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund feels that his side is under no pressure to win their friendly against Zambia on Wednesday night, kick-off 8pm.
Catch the game live on SS4 and SSHD4
The South Africans will host their Southern African counterparts in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge.
This will be the 18th edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge and is a repeat of the inaugural edition in 1994 when Bafana defeated Zambia 2-1 at Ellis Park Stadium.
Igesund who took over as coach five months ago is yet beat a high profile football nation after succumbing to 1-0 away losses to both Brazil and Poland.
Igesund, though, is undefeated against African opposition after having beaten both Mozambique and Kenya in friendly matches.
The match against Chipolopolo, who are the reigning African Champions is seen as a preparatory match heading into next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Igesund has been mandated with seeing Bafana to at least a semifinal spot in the continental showpiece.
“There is no pressure on Bafana to win a friendly match. The pressure on Bafana is to get to the semifinals or win the Africa Cup of Nations,” explains Igesund.
“We are busy with our preparations and right now there is no pressure on the players. They are going to have to go there and perform like they professional, do their job s and work hard.”
“We want to go out there and do well and I think we will. We are in a much better situation right now than we were in our last trip to Poland to Kenya.
“A win against the champions of Africa will not only galvanise the side, but it will also inspire good confidence throughout the nation that the team is going in the right direction.”
Zambia, though, will also be looking to stamp their authority as reigning kings of African football.
Their captain Christopher Katongo emphasizes that this match will be important for the complexion of Afcon 2013 where
“It is always good to play closer to home and this game will fine tune us for the African Cup of Nations,” said Katongo, who is in the running for the 2012 CAF African Player of the Year Award said.
“This won’t be an easy game. I have never played an easy game since I have been a professional. No game will be easy. Bafana Bafana are worthy opponents.”
Looking ahead to the defence of their Afcon title, Katonga also explains how this match serves as worthwhile preparation.
“So now looking ahead to the tournament itself, if we can get our preparations right, we concentrate and follow instruction, then we will do well. We are champions and we are going to defend our crown,” added the Zambian.
Katongo, who has previously plied his trade on South African soil with former Premier Soccer League club Jomo Cosmos, has been a thorn in the Bafana flesh in previous encounters and looks forward to finding the back of the net again this time.
“I am glad to know that South Africans and football supporters at large have not forgotten what I did in the past. The last time I scored against Bafana Bafana was fantastic for our nation because they were playing for a draw and we needed the win.
“It will be a difficult game for us because South Africa have more to lose than us. They have to beat us on Wednesday, but this is a game where they will be trying new things because they have a new coach and just like us are also in preparations for Afcon,” concluded Katongo.
Since South Africa’s readmission into the international fold in 1992, these two the teams have met no less than 14 times. Each side has claimed four wins against one another, and there have been six draws. Chipolopolo have outscored Bafana 15 goals to 14.