Bafana Bafana are confident of their chances ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers, according to head coach Gordon Igesund, after yesterday’s friendly against Lesotho gave them a chance to experiment with their injury-riddled squad.
Orlando Pirates midfielder Tlou Segolela scored a brace as South Africa beat their hosts 2-0 in Maseru, despite injuries to numerous key players, particularly in defence, and Igesund was pleased with the performance in their only warm-up match.
“It was a good exercise for us and we have taken a lot from this match. I am happy with the result but more so with the performance,” he said.
“I saw a lot that I needed to see, because without this match I would have had to experiment in Cameroon, which is very dangerous.”
Igesund fielded a vastly different side to the one that defeated the Central African Republic (CAR) 2-0 in their first-leg qualifier in Cape Town in March.
Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune, Thuso Phala and Reneilwe Letsholonyane did not play at the weekend.
Igesund said he was expecting to be able to beef up his team for their clash against the CAR in Cameroon on Saturday, and another qualifier against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa next week.
“Now we know what we need to work on and I believe we will get better, more so because Phala, May Mahlangu, Khune, Tokelo Rantie and Letsholonyane will be available for the two matches,” Igesund said.
The squad was hit by a barrage of injuries in the build-up to the match – defenders Siboniso Gaxa, Tsepo Masilela, Morgan Gould, Siyabonga Sangweni, Thabo Matlaba and Siyanda Xulu were all unavailable – and Igesund experimented with various combinations at the back.
Thabo Nthete played alongside Eric Mathoho in central defence, before Mathoho was replaced by Tefo Mashamaite in the second half.
Also coming on in the second stanza was Tebogo Langerman at left back in place of Ricardo Nunes, while Senzo Meyiwa made his international debut when he replaced Wayne Sandilands who started in goals.
“I gave a couple of players a run and I was very pleased with the outcome,” Igesund said.
“We had to get to the bottom of our defensive troubles before we travel to the CAR and Ethiopia. It was important to get it right here.
“What I saw gave me a clear indication of what we need to do in our next match, which is very crucial.”
Segolela, meanwhile, hoped they could build on their victory and use the momentum heading into the qualifying fixtures.
Bafana were lying second in Group A after three matches in the second round of African qualifying, two points behind group leaders Ethiopia.
“The two goals were a great confidence booster for me, but credit must go to the whole team as we worked very hard to achieve this result,” Segolela said.
“We did very well in windy conditions and this should set us up for a great travel to Cameroon.
“Hopefully we will repeat the same performance and even improve it.”
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