29 May 2014
Buoyed after a solid display in their 1-1 draw with Australia, South Africa go into their clash with New Zealand in Auckland on Friday with confidence. The young Bafana Bafana team that shone against the Socceroos believes they are on the path to better things.
Ayanda Patosi, Thulani Serero and Bongani Zungu, who all showed up well in the match in Sydney, believe it won’t be long before Bafana Bafana supporters are wearing on broad smiles once more.
The trio also said they believe the tour of Australasia is vital preparation for the tough travels the national team will undertake in Africa for the forthcoming 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
South Africa face Sudan in Khartoum in the first match of their qualifiers, and Patosi, the scorer of Bafana Bafana’s goal in their draw with World Cup-bound Australia, said the Antipodean trip could not have come at a better time.
‘A great outing’
“This was a great outing. It is priceless to play such games away from home,” he enthused in a statement on Wednesday.
“These are ideal preparations to gear oneself for a hostile reception whenever one plays away from home.
“These away matches will also help give the boys the much-needed experience, we need that. Most of the guys in the team are talented, but have never been exposed to intimidating crowds away from South Africa. When playing the qualifiers, one needs to be as tough as a tick,” he added with a smile.
Attacking midfielder Serero, who has taken on a leadership role within the team on the tour, said the only thing the players in the touring squad needed was to remain grounded.
‘The sky is the limit’
“I am really chuffed with what I have seen from these young guys. Most are eager to learn and they know if they keep their feet on the ground, the sky is the limit,” said Serero, who helped Ajax Amsterdam win the Dutch Eredivisie title this past season.
“On a personal note I had a good season. I have been playing regularly and it would be nice if I grow from strength to strength going forward.”
Zungu said the secret to every team’s success is ambition and hunger to do well. “We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the hunger,” Zungu said at the team’s base in Takapuna, north of Auckland on Wednesday.
Hungry for success
The Mamelodi Sundowns’ midfielder added that the youthful squad wanted to win at all costs and was putting extra work into their game.
“If you work hard, put in extra work in whatever you do, all things will come together,” he said.
South Africa and New Zealand have met only once previously, during the 2009 Confederations Cup, when a brace from Bernard Parker saw Bafana Bafana to a 2-0 victory.
Meanwhile Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said he was touched by a gesture from Auckland City FC, a team the late Keryn Jordan played for from 2001 to 2010.
The national team mentor, who coached Jordan at Manning Rangers when the Durban side won the inaugural Premier Soccer League title in 1997, was presented with an Auckland City FC pennant, the number 14 jersey which Jordan last wore, and a club tie on Wednesday.
Jordan, New Zealand’s ASB Premiership Player of the Decade, died in October last year at the age of 37 after a 12-year battle with cancer.
‘I am speechless’
“I felt really touched by the gesture. I am speechless,” Igesund said after he was presented with the jersey, tie and the emblem by the club’s treasurer Stephen Vuksich, the son of owner Irvine Vuksich.
“I am going to share this with Keryn’s son,” he added. “This is a huge honour because he (Keryn) used to tell all and sundry here that I was his greatest mentor, hence the club decided to give me this token of appreciation.”
Auckland City FC was voted Oceania Club of the Decade from 2001 to 2010, with Jordan being their leading player.