Igesund's task gets tougher
IT MIGHT have been sheer misery for soccer-mad five-time world champions Brazil when they were beaten 2-1 by Mexico in the men's final of the Olympics at London's Wembley Stadium on Saturday.
After the tears that literally flowed in the streets of Rio de Janeiro and other places, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund is expecting a fearsome backlash in the international encounter against the Samba Kings in Sao Paulo on September 7.
"Had Brazil finally captured the Olympic trophy they have coveted for so long," said Igesund yesterday, "they might have been tempted to give the mainly Under-23 squad of players a rewarding victory salute against us. Now I expect this will be the last thing on their minds after what was frankly a disappointing performance against Mexico."
Instead, the Bafana coach now believes Brazil will field their strongest available line-up against South Africa. This means that seasoned international campaigners like Robinho of AC Milan, Real Madrid's Kaká, Ramires and David Luiz from Chelsea, Inter Milan's Julio Cesar and Maicon, and possibly even Ronaldinho if he has rediscovered lost form, will all be considered for selection.
"Don't forget," said Igesund, "the Olympic Games soccer tournament is designed mainly for Under-23 players and none of these stars participated. But now Brazil will already be turning their attention to building a squad for the hosting of the 2014 World Cup and they are going to pull no punches."
In addition, Igesund pointed out the game in Sao Paulo was designed as part of Brazil's independence celebrations "and apart from attempting to cement their claims for places in the World Cup team, the players will have this additional motivation to display their best form".
Despite all this, Igesund said he remained confident Bafana will be able to put up a creditable performance in what will be a huge test of character, skill and temperament for his team.
"There are those who are suggesting I should not have been entrusted with this baptism of fire for my first game with Bafana," added Igesund, "and been given a more accommodating test. But I'm not approaching the match in this negative frame of mind.
"It's a great challenge and there is a great deal to benefit from the experience."
As to his preparation in compiling the Bafana squad, Igesund revealed that he had now abandoned plans to go overseas before the Brazil game and hold meetings with the various South African players who are based in Europe and Asia.
"I've simply run out of time," explained the Bafana coach. "There is so much work required to be done right here to examine all the candidates based in the PSL. There are now little more than three weeks left before the Brazil game."