|Numbibia: disappointed Namibia fans on Sunday|
After fielding a team of little known international faces in the 2-1 quarter-final win over Namibia on Sunday, Igesund remains upbeat as rival Chipolopolo boss Herve Renard insists: “This is a game we must win, as hosts we have to get to the final.”
Igesund, talking from Ndola yesterday, told me: “Remember these boys have never played together before, we’ve put a team together out of nothing. We only trained together twice before our first match, it’s not been ideal.
“And Zambia will have SIX of their World Cup qualifying squad available. I have one. It’s been an interesting situation but the players have responded well.”
Igesund was forced to re-select his original squad when Kaizer Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung pulled his double-winning players out of the team. Orlando Pirates also withdrew their stars and SuperSport United chose to put their friendly against Manchester City ahead of the nation’s COSAFA crusade.
In a final blow on Monday after SuperSport’s surprise 2-0 win over English Premier League runners-up City on Sunday, Matsatsantsa centre-back Bevan Fransman, who was supposed to fly to Zambia on Sunday night, failed to board his flight.
But Igesund remains upbeat despite the turmoil, saying: “I’ve got no complaints. These young players showed against Namibia we have depth in South Africa. We’ll give it all we have.”
ISAAC “SHAKES” KUNGWANE is not a bad man to turn to for the BIG opinions on the beautiful game as it exists in South Africa – especially when inside Knowledge is the name of the game.
The bubbling former Kaizer Chiefs star, perhaps the most animated of the PSL analysts on SuperSport (not to mention one of the better dancers), believes the much-talked about Knowledge Musona will be under huge pressure as he returns to the AmaKhosi this year.
The Zimbabwean striker, on loan from Bundesliga club Hoffenheim for a year, must slot in to a double-winning squad and reproduce the form he produced as a hungry, young goal-getter in Soweto three years ago.
Shakes points out: “Knowledge Musona was a hungry young player when he first joined Kaizer Chiefs. He worked very hard, every game. He made his name. Now here’s the Catch 22 situation. All the Euros he got from Germany, what happened there honestly speaking? He spent two years at Hoffenheim and Augsburg and didn’t do that well. That’s a fact.
“It’s not going to be easy for him back in South Africa to a league he was used to . A lot of pressure’s going to be put on him like when Bernard Parker came back from Holland.
“Hopefully he’ll score goals but the pressure will be on Knowledge.”
But surely Orlando Pirates’ own striking signing – Lennox Bacela from Bloemfontein Celtic – will find things tough too?
Shakes laughs: “He doesn’t have the same scoring record as Knowledge but he will THRIVE on the service he gets from people like Dane Klaite, Oupa Manyisa and Andile Jali in Orlando.
“Bacela is an out-and-out striker who gets in the box, he should get goals. But when coaches play away from home, will he get the chance?”
Pirates fans know Collins Mbesuma has been struggling, Takesure Chinyama and Benni McCarthy are gone and Shakes says: “I think it depends on the system Roger de Sa plays. When he plays away, Pirates will probably only use one striker in the Champions League. But in the PSL, Mbesuma is a good holder of the ball, I think I will work with Bacela.
“With a lot of planning – and I understand they will sign some more players soon – I believe Pirates can go all the way in Africa. They’re looking at the second star!
And our new champions Kaizer Chiefs next year? “I mean with Stuart Baxter at the helm, with the kind of football they played in the middle of last season, I have a lot of hope they can do well in the Champions League too.”
But Shakes also offers a serious critique of South African football: “We are a confused nation in terms of our style of play. Our physique doesn’t allow us to play the German style of football. We have to be a bit of Spanish, a little bit of Brazilian
“But we’ll never have that in South Africa. Coaches don’t trust eachother. They don’t sit down and discuss Bafana Bafana’s Under 20s with Gordon Igesund. We shouldn’t be picking the likes of Shabba and YeYe for the COSAFA Cup. It’s for youngsters.
“To show that there is something wrong with our football, you cannot go and watch Wits and Platinum Stars… how many players are going to turn up and watch there? That’s the state of our football. People get bussed in to watch the PSL!
“We also have to address the problem of age cheating in our academies. We should have great development in this country – like Ghana, who reached the Under 20 World Cup semi-finals in Turkey last week.
“The egos of coaches and people in football in this country, you talk about SAFA and the elections in September – everybody is looking to get their own feet in an office in SAFA House. Development takes a back seat.”