Digkacoi looking for home comforts

“We are going out to win it,” says South African midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi

when pressed on his country’s aims in the 2013 African Cup of Nations.

“It means so much to South Africa, especially after the World Cup.”

Lofty ambitions for Bafana Bafana given the form of the last couple of seasons has been so inconsistent. Dikgacoi will need to be in the sort of inspirational form he found at the 2010 World Cup if the dream is to come true.

If his current club form is a guide he will do well. The Bafana Bafana international has scored goals as his club Crystal Palace push for promotion to the Premier League.

 “I’m really happy with my form going into the tournament.”

"Last season I had a lot of injury problems but in the summer I worked really hard. I feel a lot stronger and playing a lot of games has really helped me”

Dikgacoi was first capped in 2007, is expected to form a midfield partnership with Oldham Athletic's Dean Furman.  Bafana Bafana coach Igesund is delighted by Dikgacoi's form.

"KG's getting forward more and scoring goals so that's really good for us," said Igesund. "He should be one of the main guys for us."

It’s a turnaround for Dikgacoi as life in England has certainly not been an easy ride for the midfielder.

Signed by Fulham in 2009, Dikgacoi eventually moved to Championship side Crystal Palace after making just seven Premier League starts.

He then endured a difficult debut season at Selhurst Park that was marred by a succession of injuries.

He’s now a key member of the Selhurst Park outfit and will be missed the deeper South Africa go into the tournament.

"If we (South Africa) do well in the tournament, obviously I'm going to be away for quite some time but everyone is prepared. I know the coach has been making plans around that situation."
 
Bafana Bafana will draw inspiration from different quarters.

There’s the Cup of Nations win in 1996 and all that.

“I remember 1996 really well and it was inspirational,” says Digkacoi.

Some of the inspiration finds is borne of tragedy. The South African build-up has been affected by the death of assistant coach Thomas Madigage. Madigage was killed in a road accident in October, only three months after being appointed to his role by coach Gordon Igesund.

Dikgacoi is hopes to win the Nations Cup as a tribute to him.

"Tommy meant a lot to some of us because he improved us as players. "It would be perfect if we could win the tournament and dedicate it to him."

"I know some of us have taken his death quite badly. That will be really inspirational for us every time we step onto the pitch."

The crowd will also be right behind Igesund's squad every time they step on the pitch

"It is a big advantage being at home. I don’t think the home crowd will mean too much pressure on us," he said.

These advantages are all important because Dikgacoi thinks group A will be difficult.

“I don’t see the draw as having done us too many favours”, says Dikgacoi. “Cape Verde eliminated Cameroon.”

That caution won’t dampen home expectations.

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