Hughes glad he took Pools job

Hughes glad he took Pools job

Published Jan. 22, 2013 7:15 a.m. ET

South Africa believe patience is the key as they plot a way to score the first goal of Group A at the African Nations Cup.

Both Group A games finished goalless on Saturday, with Bafana Bafana held by Cape Verde Islands and Angola playing to a draw with Morocco.

But the hosts remain confident of progressing to the next round and are adamant the goals will come if they stick to their plan.

"At international level you need to keep trying, have a big heart and a strong mentality, more so because we are playing teams who have loads of experience," said striker Katlego Mphela.


"A perfect example was the Group B match between Niger and Mali (a 1-0 Mali win), the latter kept on going and eventually scored - so that's what we need to do, just keep on working hard."

Defender Anele Ngcongca was pleased to keep a clean sheet in the opener, and echoed Mphela's belief that the goals will follow.

"All the teams in our group are good and Angola is no different, they have a lot of experience," he said.

"We learnt from the past match that we have to be more patient, a bit more attractive going forward and try to create some chances so we can score goals. We kept a clean sheet and we are all positive about the next match, nothing else matters."

The players were no doubt responding to the comments of their coach Gordon Igesund, who accused them of losing their nerve against Cape Verde Islands and rushing too many balls over the top rather than crafting better openings.

There were better chances for both teams in the match between Angola and Morocco, but the same outcome.

However, Angola came away much happier with their point than South Africa were.

"Before the tournament, we were the (second) weakest team in the group, according to Fifa's rankings," said coach Gustavo Ferrin.

"Now we've all come away with 0-0 draws and we (have) the same chances as before."

Pools were rooted to the foot of the table, without a win in 14 league matches, when Hughes quit as manager of Livingston to replace Neale Cooper at Victoria Park in November.

In their nine league games since, Pools have won one, drawn two and lost six and remain bottom of the table, 12 points adrift of safety, but Hughes is relishing the challenge and insists he has not once had second thoughts.

"No, certainly not," the 48-year-old said. "I was under no illusions when I arrived and the response from the players has been good.

"We've not had the luck, I have to say that. I'm not using it as an excuse, but in three or four games we should have taken something, if not won it, but I've seen an upturn in performance levels.

"There is a consistency to our game and we have played some nice football. For the most part we've had to cut out the expansive football I like my sides to play in order to make sure we're hard to beat and we have benefited from that.

"The next stage in our progression is to become even harder to beat, to be galvanised and to pick up results. We must start to win games to have any kind of belief that we can stay in the division.

"It's a very fine line in football management. We should have got something from the Preston game. We were good enough to have taken at least a point and then we would be sat here talking about being unbeaten in three matches.

"But the commitment from the players and their attitude, I certainly see it coming and we'll keep working to improve that spirit."