Auckland – Bafana Bafana landed safely in Auckland, New Zealand on Tuesday ahead of their friendly international against the All Whites on Friday.
Having left Australia 12 hours after playing out to a 1-1 draw against the Socceroos in Sydney, the South Africans shifted focus to the Kiwis, ranked a lowly 111th in the world and number one in the Oceania Football Confederation.
Bafana travelled without Erick Mathoho, who left the team on Tuesday morning to return to South Africa following the death of his cousin.
Coach Gordon Igesund said after the stalemate on Monday night that he plans to give players who did not take part in the game against Australia an opportunity against New Zealand, confirming that every player would get a chance to play.
“Against New Zealand, I’ll change the game completely, because I want to give everybody a run,” Igesund said.
“The four or five players who didn’t get a chance [against Australia] will all play, I’ll change things around a little bit.
“These are important games for us to play and to give the opportunity to the young players and get them playing together.”
Reflecting on the Australia result, the 57-year-old mentor said he was pleased with the performance of his players, who did well to subdue a boisterous Aussie crowd, bidding farewell to the Socceroos before they depart for the World Cup in Brazil.
“We achieved what we needed to achieve. I think both teams needed the exercise for different reasons,” Igesund said.
“This is our team going forward now. There was a lot of talk before the match about Bafana Bafana and South Africa coming here with a team that was a farce.
“Winning and losing is not that important. I know sometimes there’s a lot of pressure to try and win games, but if you don’t try to do what you have to do moving forward, you’re never going to get there.”
Friday’s fixture will be the first meeting between the two Southern Hemisphere teams since the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup in South Africa, where Bafana managed a comfortable 2-0 victory, courtesy of goals from Bernard Parker either side of half-time.
Mount Smart Stadium will play host to Friday’s fixture. The stadium is home to rugby league’s New Zealand Warriors and has a capacity of 30 000.
Meanwhile, Igesund and his troops will have to contend with challenging weather conditions, compared with those of Sydney, where day-time highs reached in excess of 25 degrees.
Auckland is expecting rain over the coming days and will reach day-time maximums of 16 and 17 degrees on Thursday and Friday.
SAPA / Sport24