Safa line up Bafana friendlies for October‚ but it might be complicated

06 September 2019 - 14:46 By Tiisetso Malepa
Bafana Bafana head coach Molefi Ntseki (R) will be pleased with the promised two friendly matches in October. On the left is Ntseki's assistant Arthur Zwane.
Bafana Bafana head coach Molefi Ntseki (R) will be pleased with the promised two friendly matches in October. On the left is Ntseki's assistant Arthur Zwane.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

With exactly a month to go before the next Fifa window for international competition‚ the SA Football Association (Safa) are in advanced talks with will a few countries to convince them to play Bafana Bafana.

This was confirmed by Safa acting chief executive Russell Paul on Thursday without revealing names of the potential opponents.

Newly-appointed coach Molefi Ntseki and his Bafana may have been utterly disappointed to miss out on the September 2-10 international friendly window as xenophobic violence wrecked their plans‚ but Paul assured that the team will play two friendly matches in October.

“We had the September window and now we have the October window. There are plans for matches in October‚” Paul said.

“We are speaking with some countries and we are trying to finalise. Hopefully over the next couple of days we will be able to release those fixtures.”

SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan has strongly condemned xenophobic attacks that scuppered Bafana Bafana's international friendly match.
SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan has strongly condemned xenophobic attacks that scuppered Bafana Bafana's international friendly match.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Bafana had a friendly international initially scheduled against Zambia in Lusaka cancelled by the country’s football association in response to the xenophobic violence in SA.

Madagascar initially stepped in as a replacement in a game to have been played at Orlando Stadium‚ but backtracked.

The social and political climate in South Africa means Bafana’s safety outside of the country can also be a cause for concern.

Safa might be left with no option but to invite a non-African nation for the October 7-15 international window.

With back-to-back 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games against Ghana in Accra and at home against Sudan in November looming‚ African opposition would be ideal but Paul left the decision to coach Ntseki.

“I suppose it is up to the coach [to decide on the type of opposition]. The coach is always looking for ways and means.

“But if you play a European team they are not necessarily going to give you that expertise and benefit‚” Paul said without ruling out a possibility for opponents from other continents.

“You are playing Ghana and Sudan and you want to play a team that play in that kind of formation.”

Acting CEO Russell Paul was at pains to point out that the cancellation of the friendly match was through no fault of the SA Football Association.
Acting CEO Russell Paul was at pains to point out that the cancellation of the friendly match was through no fault of the SA Football Association.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

If the situation in the country is not normalised by the time of the October Fifa window‚ Safa may be forced to play their two matches outside of the country and in a non-African nation.

“The challenges you will face with opposition not from Africa is that you will have to play those fixtures abroad purely because in South America and in the US‚ and to a lesser extend in Europe and Asia‚ they are already playing World Cup qualifiers and they are already playing Nations League.

“You can’t play one fixture here and one fixture there. So it would mean that we would have to go there [outside of the country]‚” said Paul.

Safa’s financial woes are well documented and apparently played a role in the organisation failing to organise decent friendly matches for Bafana ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations finals in June and July in Egypt.

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