Bafana Bafana were warmly received upon arrival in Mother City on Monday afternoon, and immediately visited sponsors Absa’s branch in Khayelitsha Mall where they were mobbed by hundreds of adoring fans.
They were met at the Cape Town International Airport by Grant Pascoe, an Executive Mayoral Committee Member of the Tourism, Events and Marketing portfolio.
Bafana take on Central African Republic at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday evening (20h15) in a crucial 2014 World Cup qualifying match.
“We are proud to have Bafana Bafana back in the City again, and we are confident they will do well on Saturday. We would like to appeal to all the people of Cape Town and surrounding areas to come out in numbers to show their support to the players, like they did last year. As the City, we are proud to host our heroes again,” said Pascoe.
Head coach Gordon Igesund has this whole week to look for a combination in central defence following the withdrawal of Siyabonga Sangweni due to a knee injury. Bafana Bafana will also be without the injured Tsepo Masilela at left back. Igesund though is not losing sleep over the spate of withdrawals.
“It is unfortunate that the two players are out with injuries, but it is part of the game. I believe I picked the squad with enough depth on the side and I am quite confident with the central defenders I have. Mulomowandao Mathoho has been playing well, Siyanda Xulu was just recently selected man of the match, we also have Thabo Nthete who is a very good player; so I have a lot of cover in those positions,” said Igesund.
“It is just unfortunate that they might not have played together in the positions, so I have to give a lot of work into that. I am also aware that Mathoho and Gould play together at Kaizer Chiefs, but it does not mean that is the combination I will go with. It is just disappointing as no one wants to lose any player to injury.”
Igesund, who was hospitalised recently, said he had fully recovered from the operation and there were no health concerns for him.
“I am feeling much better now after the operation. I had good rest and am fine, fit and ready to lead my country in such a crucial match,” he said.
The Bafana Bafana mentor also believes that even though this clash is a must-win encounter, the players are not under pressure like in the AFCON 2013 tournament.
“We have come a long way in a short space of time. As the tournament went on the players started to believe in themselves and played good football. Now there is a lot confidence, a lot of camaraderie in the team and good spirit,” said Igesund.
“Our mission is to qualify for Brazil in 2014, yes it is a tough task but I don’t think we will feel the kind of pressure we felt when we started the AFCON 2013 tournament, where we were not given a chance. I have no doubt in my in my mind that we will do well because we are not under the same pressure as we were then.”
Tickets for the match are still available and going for R50 and R100.
They can be purchased at Shoprite, Checkers and Shoprite/Checkers stores as well as at Computicket outlets around the country.