Just a few hours after landing in Ouagadougou, Bafana Bafana were already on the pitch – preparing for their opening 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso.
Bafana take on the Stallions on Saturday at 8pm SA time.
And the South Africans wasted no time in trying to acclimatise to the hot conditions here as they conducted their first training session – albeit on an astro turf pitch. This was because of the unavailability of a training field with floodlights as the team arrived late and had to make do with what was available last night.
After 24 hours of travelling, which included a sleepover in Ivory Coast, Bafana arrived to the sweltering heat of Ougadougou yesterday afternoon.
But despite the hot conditions – with the afternoon mercury rising as high as 35°C – the players were in high spirits in their first training session and were looking forward to the challenge ahead.
Bafana sneaked into town without being noticed as there was no fanfare usually associated with the visiting team.
However they arrived without the trio of Tokelo Rantie, Isaac Nhlapo and Ayanda Patosi, who are expected to join the team today as they had no visas for Ivory Coast.
Bar the three missing players, all the other players were raring to go, with the Kaizer Chiefs duo of Eric Mathoho and Ramahlwe Mphahlele shrugging off their minor injuries and declared fit to play on Saturday. They took part in last night’s training session – the second one since the team came into camp.
Coach Shakes Mashaba was excited that they were beginning the World Cup campaign away from home and was hoping for a similar outing like the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in which their record away from home was impeccable. Then Bafana started with a resounding victory over Sudan which set the tone for the qualifiers.
Bafana will have further training sessions today and the final one at the match venue tomorrow evening.
Fresh from lifting the MTN8 trophy last weekend, Bidvest Wits captain Thulani Hlatshwayo is likely to lead the team once again after he did so against Egypt and Mauritania.