BAFANA BAFANA coach Gordon Igesund is roaring again. Less than a week after seeing his side beaten 2-1 by a sensational own-goal in Ethiopia, he says: “Our final game against Botswana means something again. We’ve got to hope and pray. And win.”
Speaking on “Bollockz”, my brand new football show on Ballz Radio, Igesund was back to his usual optimistic self after the defeat in Addis Ababa which appeared to have left South Africa’s World Cup qualification dream shattered.
The full interview is on video above, but here are some of the highlights: “The Ethiopia defeat? You know it was one of those situations, unfortunately for us like we’ve had since I started in this job, where we have to win every game. This was no different.
“In the World Cup qualifiers I’ve been playing catch-up every game. It was an absolute freak own goal that Benard Park scored against a highly-motivated Ethiopia.
“We played with a lot of passion and more importantly, we’re starting to get an identity, playing a brand of football which is effective for us.”
Gordon and I spoke on the phone hours after the game – when the FIFA website announced Ethiopia were to be investigated for using an ineligible player in their away win over Botswana a week before.
Gordon, who won the PSL title with a record FOUR different clubs, admits: “It came as a shock to me, before every single game, the match commissioner will tell the opposition who is ineligible to play. That was done and they chose to play the player.
“I’m not going to get over-excited about it, but we’re still in with a bit of a shout. I’ve also heard about Ethiopia losing six points, but I don’t want to talk too much about that.
“The player still hadn’t served his suspension when he played against us. Like I said, I’m more worried about Botswana. All we can do is win that last game.
“We don’t want to jump ahead of ourselves. The way it is right now, this Beyene will have to serve his ban against the Central African Republic. This is what we’re hearing. From our point of view, from SAFA point of view, we’ll just wait and see.”
As for where Ethiopia’s final game will be played, Gordon said: “We didn’t play CAR in Bangui because our soldiers lost their lives there. It wasn’t a very good situation for football. That’s why the game was moved to Cameroon, we had lost our loved ones. The country wasn’t stable either.
“Now Ethiopia, if CAR is back to normal, have to play there. Bangui is one stadium nobody likes going to. CAR haven’t lost there for two years, including Nigeria and Egypt.
“We are building something here with the national team. We had seven or eight injuries but we’ll see what’s available on September 6. We’ve got the COSAFA Cup coming up to try new names. I don’t like chopping and changing too much.
“At the moment, we’re doing things right. We’ve had some tough times. Huge strides have been made with the players, the attitude… they’re proud to play for their country.
“We’ve got another bite of the cherry. The nice things is the Botswana game is going to mean something again. Now we’ve got to hope and pray.”