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Bafana Bafana v Cape Verde


Igesund: The time has come

Igesund: The time has come

Bafana Bafana will raise the curtain on the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations when they take on Group A rivals Cape Verde Islands at the National Stadium on Saturday evening.


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Gordon Igesund's men earned their place at this year's continental showpiece courtesy of their billing as host nation, but have a lot to make up for given their failure to qualify for the 2012 showpiece.

South Africa have looked solid in their pre-tournament preparations, although they fired blanks in their final two warm-up games, losing 1-0 to Norway before playing out a goalless draw against Algeria.

Those results have led to calls for a more ruthless Bafana squad, with Bernard Parker and Katlego Mphela urged to be more clinical in front of goal after being guilty of several wasted chances in their last two outings.

Igesund has been fortunate to have avoided any player injuries during their training camp, although the former Moroka Swallows boss has kept his intended starting XI a secret, promising only to reveal his strongest line-up just before the kick-off this weekend.

"If you know a starting XI it is very easy to prepare for the match. You will see the team on Saturday," Igesund told SuperSport. "I have had to be very careful with the squad leading up to the tournament. I have had to keep my starting line-up secret and my opposition guessing.

"You don't know if I haven't fielded my full team. I hope Cape Verde is also confused as to who my starting XI is."

The Boys will be considered heavy favourites to come out on top of their opening group tie against the little-known Cape Verde, population 500 000, although the footballing minnows will be desperate to impress in what is their debut AFCON outing.

Lucio Antunes' men also raised more than a few eyebrows as they earned their place at the sub-Saharan spectacular by knocking out one of the more fancied sides in Cameroon with a 3-2 aggregate victory in the final qualifying round.

However, the side will need to overcome history if they are to get a positive result, with Bafana having won both home and away in their previous meeting against Cape Verde during qualification for the 2006 World Cup.

Antunes also has a fully fit squad available, with Lille's Ryan Mendes set to lead the line up front, although they must do without Ricardo, considered the team's best player, for the whole tournament as he opted to remain with club Pacos de Ferreira instead of travelling to South Africa.

Posted: 18/01/13 08:49

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