Will regroup in Afcon break

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Gordon Igesund, Mamelodi Sundowns' coach, has described the month-long Africa Cup of Nations break as a blessing in disguise, saying it will help them implement their turnaround strategy.

A clearly relieved Igesund was speaking after their 1-0 win over goal-shy Free State Stars in a Absa Premiership match at Goble Park on Saturday.

The only goal of the match came in the 66th minute from Esrom Nyandoro.

It was the once-feared Brazilians' first victory in nine consecutive games, eight in the league and one Telkom Knockout final.

Igesund downplayed the tremendous pressure he is facing by saying he told his charges before the game that playing better soccer was more important than a win.

"The last three to four months were not good for us, we also had more players injured. But it is nice to finish [2007] on a high note," he said.

"At the end of the day, I'm pleased. I told my players before the start of the game that I don't care if we lose, but we should keep possession.

"We hope to turn things around after the [Afcon] break. We plan to put up a good run after the Ghana tournament break," said Igesund.

The beleaguered Downs coach said he will also be going to Ghana next month to support Bafana Bafana and to scout for players.

"I will also be going to Argentina during the break to have a look at a few players," added Igesund, who also dispelled speculation that certain players were unhappy.

Kinnah Phiri, Stars' coach, said: "It was not our day, we should have buried Sundowns with an avalanche of goals in the first half."

And it was no exaggeration.

Mike Mokoena, Stars' chairman, said: "In football you are always punished if you do not convert your chances. We should have scored more than four goals."

He added: "I must say we have had a great season to date; the team is doing well. I would like to thank our supporters and Free Staters for the awesome support."

Stars threw a Christmas party for their players and officials on Saturday night.

"I just thought they deserved it. They are going to be with their families until January 15," said Mokoena.

lSee more sport reports in Sowetan Voltage on pages 15 to 19.