BAFANA Bafana coach Gordon Igesund believes the pressure is on Mali for the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal at Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow.
Mali coach Patrice Carteron said after his side drew 0-0 draw against Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday to reach the knockout stages, that he believes the pressure is on Bafana to fulfil the hopes of a nation expectant of a tournament victory.
Igesund wrote that off as mind games yesterday and even managed to neatly turn the tables on his counterpart.
“He’s doing what most coaches do, which is take the pressure off his own team. Believe me, in every team in this competition at this stage, all the players are feeling nervous. And there’s as much pressure on me and him as every other coach,” Igesund said.
“To be really honest, we were under huge pressure in the first round. The expectations were so high, we hadn’t performed in our friendly games although our friendlies, when you really analyse them, were very tough and did us a favour. We’re so pleased and proud that we’ve made the nation happy and we’ve managed to get to the quarterfinals.
“So the pressure’s off as far as that’s concerned because it would have been an absolute tragedy if we hadn’t qualified.
“For us, the pressure’s now that we want to do well, not we have to do well.”
It says much about Bafana’s fragility at the back – which they displayed in their dramatic 2-2 draw against Morocco on Sunday – that Igesund immediately took to working with his defensive unit in his team’s first training session back yesterday.
But the coach said he believed the problem also needed to be rectified from in front of his back four.
“Against Morocco I think we didn’t defend well in the midfield. We gave them too much space. Rather than defend those balls in the area, we have to stop the supply getting in there.”