Bafana Bafana brace for hostile reception

2014-09-21 15:00

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Although none of the new-look ­Bafana Bafana players witnessed the ill-treatment meted out to the generation before them in Pointe-Noire in 1997, they might also face a hostile reception in Congo-Brazzaville next month.

Trips to Congo have always been ­notorious and pictures of a bruised and battered Mark Fish during the World Cup qualifier at the venue are a cruel ­reminder of hostilities that come with playing on the continent.

The SA Football Association (Safa) said it will leave nothing to chance for Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at the Stade Omnisport de Pointe-Noire on October 11.

Safa received correspondence from Congo this week stating the game had been moved from Friday to Saturday and would be played on an artificial turf.

Safa CEO Dennis Mumble said they were in touch with the South African embassy in that country to ensure everything was in order. According to him, travelling to Congo was not as hectic as it was with Sudan, but they were still contemplating whether the squad would fly commercial or charter a flight.

“There are not as many risks involved like when travelling to Sudan, hence we are still deciding which one will be financially viable. But we are not leaving anything to chance. We have already pulled Barney Kujane [team manager] from the Under-17 team so he could concentrate on the Congo trip. But we are also in touch with the ­embassy to get advice from them about what we can expect on the ground,” he said.

With the return game against the Red Devils four days later in Polokwane, Mumble said the only snag was that the team would return on Monday morning and head straight to Limpopo.

“Moving the game from ­Friday to Saturday will disorganise our travel plans as initially we were to come back immediately after the game on Saturday morning. But since the game is on Saturday, the only flight available is on Sunday morning.”

Mumble said he was still awaiting a technical report from coach Shakes Mashaba regarding his requirements.?He added that the team could use artificial pitches at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto to prepare for the match.

If history is anything to go by, Mashaba’s team will face their ­sternest mental test in Congo.

The Congolese lead Group A after collecting maximum points in their opening two matches against Nigeria and Sudan. Bafana are second on four points.

With Nigeria ­expected to brush off Sudan in their two games, Bafana will need results in the games against Congo if they are to stand a chance to qualify for the Afcon finals in Morocco next year.

The top two teams in each group qualify, plus the best-placed third team out of all the seven groups.

Nigeria are third in Group A with a single point gathered in their draw with Bafana.?Sudan are bottom.

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