Saturday, 8 June 2013

THE WORLD CUP DREAM IS ON: As predicted, Gordon Igesund's Bafana leave rusty CAR with three punctures. And he found time to call me afterwards!

THREEDOM: Gordon Igesund
GORDON IGESUND. Bafana Bafana. We salute you. A 3-0 win over the Central African Republic keeps our World Cup hopes alive on the day Nelson Mandela, the father of the nation, finds himself back at death’s door.

Gordon knows that. Right after the huge Group A qualifying win in Yaounde he said: “How can we talk about football when Nelson Mandela is in hospital? We have to wish him well first.”

The man has all the bases covered. He called me  at 6.54pm to say: "Mate, they f***ed us about this week. We were tired. But we did it. NOW FOR ETHIOPIA! I loved the Rambo stuff. The boys have been so good here. Put up with everything they threw at us."

When I told him the SABC were unable to air the first 40 minutes, Gordon was shocked: "What? No man! We started so well! But I need to thank everyone for their support, it's been brilliant. I loved the Rambo picture in the Star!"

Before the game, after the expected problems with travel and training facilities in “neutral” Cameroon, he promised: “We have turned the negatives in to positives. I am confident. We will play an attacking game.”

And he did. Despite “technical problems caused by rain” which meant viewers missed most of the first half, Bafana were live and dangerous for the full 90 minutes.

Kaizer Chiefs striker Bernard Parker opened the scoring after 26 minutes, poking the ball under the advancing goalkeeper and blasting home with his left foot to make it 1-0.

Just before half-time, another of the AmaKhosi double-winners, Siphiwe Tshabalala played a nice one-two with Tokelo Rantie to surge through the “Centrafrique” defence and make it 2-0 to “Afrique du Sud”.

A quieter second-half was capped by a brilliant third – Orlando Pirates play-maker Oupa Manyisa et the full-back and stood up an inch-perfect cross for Moroka Swallows’ PSL top-scorer Katlego Mashego to nod home. Boom. The 3-0 scoreline I predicted on eNCAnews on Friday night was complete.

At half-time, I sent Gordon an SMS suggesting: “Just stop at 3-0, let’s save a few for Ethiopia next week.”

Afterwards, Rambo Igesund grinned: “I was very happy with our game plan. We went for a very offensive team.  I told you we would.

“We trained once in the week really, so it was a great achievement when you think about it. I was a little bit disappointed because we sat back in the second-half a bit.

“We looked a little scared, but I was telling them we could have got four or five really.

“Look, we haven’t spoken about it much but it was a very tough preparation for us. All the travelling problems and stuff. A very tough week it’s been, but we got through. We got the job done.”

With Botswana narrowly failing to take points off table-toppers Ethiopia in Gaborone earlier, Bafana MUST now win in Addis Ababa, a town around a kilometre higher (7,546 feet) than Johannesburg (5,793 feet) in terms of altitude.

The final game against Botswana at home should be a doddle, but Ethiopia finish with CAR, who looked broken down and rusty yesterday. A draw in Addis Ababa will NOT be enough given Ethiopia's two-point lead in the group.

In World Cup qualifying, unlike AFCON, goal difference counts first, then head-to-head. But that might only help if Ethiopia end with a draw. As Gordon says: “We’ve got massive four games now to get to the World Cup.”

While fasionable nations in CONCACAF, Oceania and Europe cruise to perpetual World Cup qualification, South Africa have a two-legged play-off against ANOTHER group winner to survive even if they do finish top of CAF Group A. That can’t be right. Or fair.

But on current form, who’s betting against Rambo being on target for Brazil 2014?

FOR the prediction: see last paragraph of this and follow @nealcol on twitter!

BAFANA: Khune; Ngcongca, Mathoho, Nthethe, Nunes; Mahlangu (Ntshumayelo 80), Furman, Letsholonyane, Tshabalala; Parker (Mashego 63) Rantie (Manyisa 57).


  1. Operation "Restoration Of Pride" is on.

  2. Sweet victory out of all circumstances