Bafana Bafana plot Mali downfall

Bafana Bafana head coach Molefi Ntseki
Bafana Bafana head coach Molefi Ntseki
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana are plotting a first-ever competitive win over Mali when the nations meet in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Port Elizabeth in October.

Mali were revealed on Wednesday as South Africa’s opponents for the October 13 clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and SA will need to have their wits about them if they are to clip the Eagles’ wings.

Bafana Bafana have played Mali in competitive matches only twice, with the first meeting resulting in a 2-0 quarterfinal loss at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations.

The other defeat was at the same Afcon stage in 2013, with Mali claiming a penalty victory following a 1-1 draw.

There was a 3-0 victory for SA in a warm-up match in Libreville before the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, but there was no trophy on the line then.

The confirmation of the Mali fixture will come as a shot in the arm for Bafana, who have been struggling for game time after Zambia and Madagascar pulled out of scheduled friendlies due to xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg.

In another positive development, Molefi Ntseki will finally be able to preside over his first official match as Bafana coach.

“It’s an honour to be appointed as the Bafana Bafana coach and it is also for me to play my first match in Nelson Mandela Bay,” Ntseki said in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.

“We have selected the best players in SA to play and win this match against Mali.”

The game will also serve as Mali’s debut in the Nelson Mandela Challenge.

Bafana will use the match as part of their preparations for the 2021 Afcon qualifiers, where they meet Ghana and Sudan in November.

“We are all looking forward to playing Mali, who are one of the best football countries in Africa,” Ntseki said.

“All that is important to us is to give our best performance.

“We have played very strong teams in the past.

“We have brought the whole world to South Africa.

“We have played teams from South America, US and from Europe.

“I think it befits for one to say it will be a very important match for us on October 13.”

Ntseki said he would also use the Nelson Mandela Challenge to run the rule over players he would consider for the Afcon qualifiers.

Bafana last played in Port Elizabeth against Ivory Coast in 2011.

Safa president Danny Jordan said it had been the decision of the coach to bring the Nelson Mandela Challenge to to Bay stadium.

Asked if residents of the Bay could expect more Bafana matches, Jordan said:“The challenge of the Bafana matches is they are difficult in that, in terms of the Fifa and Caf competitions, you must play in what they regard as a capital of football.

“In other words, the headquarters, and that is Johannesburg so most of your matches will be played there.”

Tickets will be on sale from Friday at R40 for adults and R20 for children under 12.

Bafana squad

Goalkeepers: Darren Keet, Ronwen Williams, Brandon Peterson

Defenders: Eric Mathoho, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Thapelo Morena, Mosa Lebusa, Thamsanqa Mkhize, Innocent Maela

Midfielders: Kamohelo Mokotjo, Thato Mokeke, Dean Furman, Lebogang Phiri, Bongani Zungu, Themba Zwane, Thembinkosi Lorch, Percy Tau, Thulani Serero, Keagan Dolly

Strikers: Lebo Mothiba, Bradley Grobler, Kermit Erasmus