Mediocre friendlies over for Bafana as Cameroon sign up

2008-10-28 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Bafana Bafana will meet African giants Cameroon in the 14th edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge at Rustenburg’s Olympia Park on November 19, it was announced yesterday.

In a no punches pulled speech at the launch of this year’s Challenge, SA Football Association (Safa) vice-president, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, admitted that Bafana missed a big opportunity by failing to qualify for the 2010 African Nations Cup in Angola.

“We cannot hide from the fact that it was a big opportunity lost when Bafana did not qualify for Angola. Playing in Angola would have helped Bafana gauge their strengths and weaknesses ahead of the 2010 World Cup finals,” Nonkonyana said in his speech.

What is refreshing about Nonkonyana is that he is not trying to spin the old line from other senior Safa officials that not reaching the Afcon is a “blessing in disguise” and Bafana are better off playing friendlies until 2010.

“It was a source of concern that we did not fulfil our objective of playing at the 2010 African Nations Cup with the Confederations Cup just around the corner next June,” Nonkonyana said.

“But we have spoken to Cameroon and told them we want to play their best side.

“Bafana do not need more mediocre opponents. Both Cameroon and Safa have agreed and guaranteed to field their strongest possible side.

“Not just for Bafana’s sake, but for the great man we are honouring. It is only right that this Challenge is a high priority match.”

That is good news for soccer fans who attend the Challenge, as they can now expect to see Barcelona superstar Samuel Eto’o, Newcastle’s Geremi, Arsenal’s Alexandre Song and veteran Cameroon skipper and defender Rigobert Song, who has over 124 caps for the Indomitable Lions.

Nonkonyana said proceeds from the match will raise at least R500 000 for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

— Sapa.

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