4 January 2013

South Africa: Norway to Test Bafana's Afcon Readiness

Photo: CAF
South African players.

Bafana Bafana will test their readiness for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) when they take on Norway in an international friendly at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday. The clash will be played in the evening, starting at 20:15.

Only one player from the Afcon squad of 23 players is still missing. Oldham Athletic's Dean Furman will turn out against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup on Saturday before heading for South Africa. He is expected in Cape Town on Sunday.

It will be the first time that the Afcon squad gets together since coach Gordon Igesund announced the line-up on 30 December.

European orientated

"It is good to be playing Norway as part of the Afcon 2013 preparations because if you look at the style of play of both Morocco and Cape Verde, it is European orientated," Igesund said of the forthcoming clash against the Norwegians, who are ranked 24th in the world, a long way clear of South Africa's ranking of 87.

"This match will help me a great deal, and I must emphasise that while winning is good that is, however, not everything we are looking for.

"We need to gel and be ready for the tournament, which is the bigger picture," he said at a press conference in Cape Town.

'Different combinations'

"There is no point winning against Norway and Algeria and then not delivering on the 19th [of January], when we face Cape Verde. This is a very new team and we have some different combinations we need to work on.

"So these two matches are crucial in that they will help the team to become a unit, so that by the time the Afcon kicks off we will play as a unit."

After his squad's first training session, Igesund declared himself excited about what he saw from his charges.

'A very good headache'

"The players are giving me a very good headache; previously they were fighting to be in the final 23, now they are fighting to make the starting line-up. That is great for the overall picture," he said.

Captain Bongani Khumalo commented: "It is a great honour representing your country in such a prestigious tournament and competition for places is stiff because we all want to be in the starting line-up.

"We want to leave our mark as a new generation and we believe we have the ability to do that. The boys are eager to work even harder," he added.

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