Monday, June 10, 2013

Ethiopian altitude may be a problem for Bafana

BAFANA Bafana have done half the job with a slick 3-0 victory on the road in their World Cup qualifier against the Central African Republic, but Ethiopia at altitude in Addis Ababa is still the tougher prospect.

Saturday's win in Yaounde was South Africa's first away victory in a World Cup qualifier since 2008. Now Bafana need another in hostile Addis Ababa, which is 2400m above sea level, against an Ethiopia side that certainly showed that they can play at the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
Ethiopia beat Botswana 2-1 in Gaborone on Saturday and top Group A with 10 points. If SA, on eight points, win on Sunday, they will have their destiny in their own hands when they face Botswana at home in their final qualifying match in September.

Coach Gordon Igesund admitted the altitude in Addis Ababa has him concerned.
"Johannesburg is at 1600m, Addis Ababa is 800m higher," he said. "So there's no air up there. I'll try and save the players with the way we play tactically.
"And I've brought a team in which I have players who can change a game, like Richard Henyekane and Tlou Segolela, if I want to go that route, and get players in behind Ethiopia.
"I think with the character the players have shown, and the passion ... to get to the World Cup. It's going to be tough but we've got a chance."
The victory against the CAR was all the more impressive given that Bafana had travel setbacks - two cancelled flights saw them take three days to reach Yaounde - and defensive injuries.
"We've had good games, but I think this was a good win," Igesund said. "I'm really pleased about a lot of things. We're not conceding goals, we're scoring goals. In our last three games we scored three yesterday, two against Lesotho, two against CAR in Cape Town."
Bafana players have said that they are creating more chances because of the direct style of football that Igesund has cultivated in the team.
"The two goals we scored yesterday were after five or six inter-passes and those little one-twos," the coach said.
"It's easy to keep the ball in your own half and go sideways. I like to put opponents on the back foot. If they score two we're going to score three - that's been my motto my whole life."