Following a lacklustre 2-1 defeat to neighbours Zimbabwe, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has come out in defence of his inexperienced soccer line-up.
Igesund opted to rest a number of senior players as the national team began to build toward the future, following their unsuccessful bid for a place at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
“Sometimes I think it’s very good to lose games, because when you’re trying out and you’re trying to make progress and you want to use players as development, we can see whether they can jump up the level or not,” Igesund said at the Orlando Stadium after the game last night.
“Sometimes, you throw them into the deep end like we did tonight. It’s good. You can see who maybe isn’t ready yet.”
Igesund handed goalkeeper Darren Keet his first international cap. His defensive line included Buhle Mkhwanazi and Thulani Hlatshwayo, and the rest of the team resembled the squad that did duty at the Cosafa Cup in July.
Having put four goals past Botswana at the weekend, Bafana failed to create many promising chances, with the scoreline goalless at the interval.
However, five minutes after the break, Kaizer Chiefs’ striker Knowledge Musona broke the deadlock with a splendid left-footed volley, before Cuthbert Malajila put the game beyond doubt in the last minute of additional time, despite a superb Bernard Parker goal seconds later.
“Zimbabwe were better than us today. They had better shape,” Igesund said.
“We didn’t look like a national team. We just looked like a team going out and playing.
“You can expect that sometimes when you have a very young team. You could see the choices and the decisions, and the experience was lacking.”
The match had a distinctly local flavour, with all but four players on the pitch at the start of the match plying their trade in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League.
Only Hardlife Zvirekwi (Caps United), Felix Chindungwe, Danny Phiri (both Chicken Inn) and Bafana’s Keet (KV Kortrijk, Belgium) play outside South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s coach Ian Gorowa declared himself pleased with Musona in particular, who has struggled to make his mark at Chiefs since rejoining the Soweto giants in July, on a one-year loan deal from German side 1899 Hoffenheim.
Musona is yet to score after three starts for the Amakhosi, with supporters beginning to question his goal-scoring abilities.
Gorowa believes Musona has turned the corner.
“I was speaking before the game to Knowledge (Musona) and I said, ‘Knowledge, you’re failing to score for Kaizer Chiefs, here’s an opportunity for you to score,’” Gorowa said.
“He did that and we hope he can carry his form now to Kaizer Chiefs.
“It looks good. We can always improve. We always want to improve, but for now we deserve to win the game.”
Musona said he was delighted to have scored the game’s opening goal, and hoped to continue his form for Chiefs, who have struggled in front of goal early in the new season.
“I think my confidence is coming back now, so I’m looking forward to score more goals like this whenever I play for my club and for my national team,” he said.
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