NAIROBI, Kenya, September 15- Kenya take on South Africa on Tuesday evening with Bafana Bafana coach, Gordon Ingesund using the international friendly as a test for his players to stake their claim on his 2013 Africa Cup of Nations squad.
Having lost 1-0 to Poland on Friday, coach Ingesund who hopes to emulate Clive Barker and lead the boys to their first Nations Cup win since 1996 when they last hosted the continental showpiece, aspires to have identified his core players for the continental showpiece after the Nairobi tie.
“We looked at a number of countries for our build-up for the Africa Cup of Nations and Kenya proved to be the most convenient since they are en route our way home from Poland.
“I believe Kenya will give us a good game and after, will have a better idea of the players to use in the preparations for the Nations Cup,” Ingesund who will be in his second game in charge of Bafana after taking over from Pitso Mosimane in June said.
He took his side through their final training session on Monday morning and with the visitors worried about the bumpy surface at Nyayo Stadium where the two teams are set to clash on Tuesday evening beginning at 7pm local time (+3GMT).
The Kenya Defense Force will hold their open day at the same venue ahead of the game raising further concerns about the pitch with the capital experiencing heavy rains in recent days.
South Africa Premier Soccer League, Orlando Pirates keeper, Moeneeb Josephs was an injury concern during the session after appearing to sprain his ankle forcing him off most of the training.
“The pitch has holes and Josephs stepped on one and we shall raise the issue with the federation so that we can have them covered with sand since it is important for us and the Kenyans as well to protect the players since they can also injure themselves.
“We are not here to complain about the facilities and I must have players with the character to play in such conditions if we are to win the Nations Cup,” the coach who will make a number of changes to the team that lost narrowly in Warsaw added.
Ingesund stressed his side was not under pressure to post their third victory over Stars since the main objective remained making an impression on their second home AFCON.
“I did not come here to beat anyone, I came here to prepare for the Nations Cup and I would rather lose all these matches and win the trophy.
“The pressure is on Kenya to match my team on the pitch when we play.”
For the second game, Ingesund will be missing the services of English Premiership Everton FC midfield player, Stephen Pienaar who retired from international football after ten years with the side.
“It is a blow to lose such players as Pienaar but we have to accept his decision and move on. We respect him for the good ten years he has given us,” he proclaimed.
“At the moment, we do not have a team and after this game, we shall now start developing the players we have identified since I will have tested the team I selected for the two games,” Ingesund proclaimed.
His new captain, Bongeni Khumalo, was upbeat about the prospects of following in the footsteps of Neil Tovey and lift the continental crown on home soil.
“We have a strong tradition as a team and hopefully in January, we can achieve the aim we have set ourselves. I’m not under pressure to perform as a captain since it is a honour to lead the team,” the Greek side PAOK defender who is on loan for EPL side Tottenham Hotspur declared.
The South Africans admitted they knew little about their opponents hence their desire to concentrate on playing their own football on Tuesday.
“They have a new coach who will no doubt have changed the way his side plays. I have only watched them play on DVD and I don’t know much about them or the country’s league,” coach Ingesund noted.
Teko Modise (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs) and Siyabonga Sangweni (Orlando Pirates) were among the 2010 World Cup Bafana squad that trained on Monday and are expected to start.
South Africa have won on both two previous meetings with Stars on their home soil in 1996 (1-0) and last year (2-0) while Kenya have not lost at Nyayo since March 2009 when they went down 2-1 to Tunisia.