SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

Africa: Bafana to Play More Preparatory Matches for Afcon

Johannesburg — Bafana Bafana will play three friendly matches in preparation for the upcoming 2013 Africa Nations Cup (Afcon).

The announcement was made by Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund on Tuesday in Johannesburg, where he outlined his plans for the tournament, which starts on January 19 and will end on February 10.

Bafana will play their first preparatory match against minnows Malawi at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday 22, December. Kick-off is 6pm.

The next match will be against Norway at the Cape Town Stadium on January 8. Kick-off is at 8:15pm.

The final preparatory match will be played against Algeria on January 12 at Orlando Stadium in Soweto. Kick-off is 6pm.

Despite the late assembly of the squad for the tournament, Igesund is adamant that his players will perform well during the tournament.

"We know that the mandate is not easy; it's very tough, but I believe this mandate is achievable, with more than 60 million supporters blowing vuvuzelas. With such support, I am confident we will do it.

"I believe we've got the players to do it for this country. We will be ready for the opening match against Cape Verde," he said.

Bafana will open their Afcon campaign against Cape Verde on 19 January at FNB stadium, followed by a clash against Angola on 23 January.

They will then play their last group stage match against Morocco on 27 January.

Igesund, who appeared wary of his opponents, said he would ask former Bafana players to help him with more information about these national teams.

"I've approached some former players to help me get more information about our opponents. I want the former players to go to the training venues of these teams to see their training tactics.

"This is a tough group for us because we don't have much information about our opponents," he said.

The coach said after the opening match against Cape Verde, his players would immediately depart to Durban and he would remain with his technical team to watch the match between Morocco and Angola.

Asked if he was worried about his players, who were known to be goal shy, Igesund said: "I am not concerned about scoring goals because I believe we will be scoring more goals during the tournament."

With regard to experienced Bafana players who are still recovering from injuries, such as Katlego Mphela, Thulani Serero and Benny McCarthy, Igesund said he would consider them for the tournament if they were match fit.

"I've spoken to Serero's team manager and he told me that the player is recovering very well and he will give him a chance to play in their upcoming two matches.

"We all believe that Serero is one of those players who can make a difference on the pitch, he's fantastic and very brilliant and I will really like him to be part of the squad for the tournament."

Igesund said he had been closely watching Mphela training with his team, Mamelodi Sundowns.

"I saw him training with his team and I was impressed; but I can only see his fitness if he can get more game time with his team," he said.

Igesund said he would start the training camp on December 20 in Durban ahead of Bafana's clash with the Flames of Malawi. However, he said the players would get a three-day break after the match.

He said the next training would be held in Johannesburg from 27 - 30 December and after the New Year's break, the players would report to camp on January 2 to prepare for their clash against Norway.

Igesund said he would announce the final 23-man squad that would represent the country during Afcon at the match against Norway.

The coach is expected to name the squad to face Malawi next week.

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