Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana’s preparations for their 2014 World Cup qualifier against the Central African Republic are back on track following their safe arrival at their base in Yaoundé, Cameroon at 23:15 local time (24:14 SA time) on Wednesday. The squad had to endure a long and tiring five-hour road trip by bus after their connecting flight was cancelled.
According to the supersport.com website, the South African Senior Men’s National team had spent Tuesday night (04 June) in Douala, Cameroon following their cancelled connecting flight to Yaoundé where they will play the Central African Republic (CAR) in a 2014 World Cup Qualifier on Saturday, 8 June 2013.
The match kicks off at 15:00 local time in Cameroon (16:00 SA time).
Reasons given by authorities for the cancellation of the first flight was that it was not on schedule despite the fact that the South African Football Association (SAFA) had fully paid for the airfare.
Bafana Bafana were dealt another blow when their flight to Yaoundé on Wednesday afternoon was also cancelled. This time the explanation given was that the plane was stuck in Yaoundé and needed some fixing and would only be available at 22:00 at night.
National coach Gordon Igesund took the decision to take the squad on a road trip to avoid further delays as a lot of preparation time had been lost due to the first cancellation.
“Waiting at the airport for the next flight was not an option as there were no guarantees that it would arrive, and we didn’t want to find ourselves stranded again in the middle of the night. So we had to think on our feet and make a move,” said Igesund.
“It is very frustrating to have to go through such, but I had warned the players that we should expect such things. But thank God we have arrived safely and the players are in high spirits. The saga is behind us and we don’t want to make any accusations. We must just look forward to our mission. At the end of the day we can’t look back, we can’t harp on this matter - life must go on. We are here to do a job and we will do it to the best of our ability,” said Igesund.
Igesund said the most important thing was to get to their base safely and start with their preparations.
“The fact is that it is not the ideal preparation but we will not allow it to upset us, what is done is done. We have a responsibility to our country to play this match and we have to be strong. We will make sure the players are ready for Saturday, and this setback will only get to us if we allow it to, so we won’t do that.”
The players are also eager to get on with the business and put the matter behind them.
“Obviously we are very disappointed but as professionals we have to get on with it. Fortunately the coach had prepared us well mentally. We are here for one thing - that is to play the match and win it. We will accept what happened and move forward,” said Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune.
“We were just worried about the road because we don’t know the area very and driving such a long distance at night could be dangerous. But I am glad we have arrived safely. We are aware all South Africans were worried about the safety of the team and we would like to thank them for their concern.”