SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

5 December 2012

South Africa: Bafana Step Up Afcon Preparations

Three friendly matches have been lined up for Bafana Bafana as South Africa's national team steps up its preparations for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), kicking off in Johannesburg on 19 January.

The first friendly will be played against Malawi at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on 22 December.

The next game will be against Norway at the Cape Town Stadium on 8 January. After the match, coach Gordon Igesund will announce a final 23-man squad for the Afcon finals.

Fellow finalists

A final warm-up contest will be played against fellow Afcon finalists Algeria at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on 12 January.

Igesund will hold a training camp on Thursday, 20 December in Durban ahead of the clash with The Flames of Malawi. There will be a three-day break after that match before another training camp takes place in Johannesburg from 27 to 30 December.

After a New Year's break, on 2 January, the squad will report for a camp that will run all the way through to the Afcon finals.

Squad

"Because of the fact that we have a match against Malawi, then a three-day break and then another camp, I can't call one squad for this and one squad for the other, so that is why I have called up a squad of plus-minus 30 players and keep on changing them," Igesund told the South African Football Association.

"I would also like to give some of the players who have recently returned to action after injuries, a chance to prove themselves," he added.

"This game against Malawi is like the other five games we have already played, winning and losing is not important. What is key is to give the players one last opportunity to convince me and my technical team that we are making the right choices.

"Intense preparations will start in earnest when I announce the final 23 players after the match against Norway."

Building a unit

The Bafana Bafana coach is looking forward to the opportunity of working with his players over an extended period of time. "I will have the players from morning to night, and that is the period I will be using to build this team into a unit," he said.

"You can't do that when you get a team on the 20th and play on the 22nd. This, for me, is the most crucial period for us because I haven't been preparing the team all I have been doing is selecting them and going to play a match.

"We haven't been playing any formations, any style. All I have been doing is looking at players, so this period for me is very important."

Igesund is expected to name his squad for Malawi next week.

Bafana Bafana, who are in Group A, face Cape Verde on Saturday, 19 January in their Africa Cup of Nations opener. That's followed by a clash against Angola on Wednesday, 23 January. South Africa's final group outing will be against Morocco on Sunday, 27 January.

SAinfo reporter

Bafana Bafana vs Zambia in the Nelson Mandela Challenge at the FNB Stadium, 14 November 2012 (Photo: South African Football Association)

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