BAFANA Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says the international friendly with Zimbabwe was a valuable exercise and people should not be distracted by the final outcome.
South Africa lost 2-1 to the Warriors in a match played at Orlando Stadium in Soweto last night.
Two second-half goals from Knowledge Musona and Cuthbert Malajila gave the visitors victory, while the hosts replied through captain of the day Bernard Parker – his 18th goal in 61 appearances for his country.
Igesund had a completely new-look lineup against Zimbabwe with Parker the only player that started in the 4-1 victory against Botswana in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier played in Durban on Saturday.
Defender Thabo Nthete was not considered as he failed to recover from a hamstring strain.
Two players were handed Bafana Bafana debuts – goalkeeper Darren Keet and striker Siphelele Mthembu.
But according to Igesund, though it was a worthwhile exercise, most of the new players failed to come to the party.
“Sometimes losing games gives you an opportunity to take a reality check on yourself. We now know we have to introduce the youngsters gradually because they looked disjointed and looked like they were not at the level we want them to be. Most are good for their clubs but the standard is different from the national team. But it was good that we gave them a run so that I could see them in action. And after games like these you can safely say some of the youngsters have a lot of work still to do,” said Igesund.
“There was really nothing going right for us tonight but I am not disappointed that we lost. The players made too many mistakes and looked out-of-sorts in many areas. I could have played the more experienced players and perhaps beat Zimbabwe 3-0, but we would not be in a position to judge the overall picture of our depth.”
Igesund said going forward the approach has to be different so that inexperienced players can learn from their more experienced colleagues.
“There was really nothing tonight for us. There were some areas where you see that the players were not up for it. So from now I will field strongest Bafana Bafana team and introduce the youngsters gradually, perhaps two at a time because I don’t want to throw them into the deep end like we did tonight,” said the Bafana Bafana mentor.
“For example if you have a player like Bongani Zungu playing alongside Kagisho Dikgacoi, Dean Furman, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Anele Ngcongca, he would benefit a lot like he did in the Botswana game. I feel for the players because they are disappointed but I told them not to be dispirited as this was one of those days when nothing went right,” said Igesund.
In 13 matches between South Africa and Zimbabwe, both sides have now won six each with one drawn.
Here’s how they lined up:
Darren Keet, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Eric Mathoho, Thulani Hlatshwayo (Tshepo Gumede 43rd), Tsepo Masilela (Marc van Heerden 76th), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Ruzaigh Gamildien 45th), Hlompho Kekana, Bongani Zungu (Siphiwe Tshabalala 65th), David Mathebula (Kermit Erasmus 55th), Bernard Parker, Siphelele Mthembu (Lebogang Manyama 45th)
Itumeleng Khune, Wayne Sandilands, Tshepo Gumede, Marc van Heerden, Ruzaigh Gamildien, Kermit Erasmus, Lebogang Manyama, Thuso Phala, Luyolo Nomandela, Siphiwe Tshabalala
Washington Arubi, Carington Nyadombo, Hardlife Zvirekwi (Eric Chipeta 82), Felix Chindungwe, Onismo Bhasera, Willard Katsande, Danny Phiri (Patson Jaure 88th), Khama Billiat (Silas Songani 90th), Knowledge Musona, Denver Mukamba (Cuthbert Malajila 66th), Kingston Nkhatha (Oscar Machapa 94th).-www.safa.net