Bafana match full of history
Kirsten Nematandani (File)
Johannesburg - SAFA president, Kirsten Nematandani said that Bafana Bafana’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia is a historical one.
Ethiopia, along with South Africa, are two of the four founding nations of the African Cup of Nations.
"This is a match full of history because both Ethiopia and South Africa were part of the four countries that formed the AFCON tournament," Nemantandani confirmed.
Despite laying a crucial role in the formation of the Africa Cup of Nations, Ethiopia have never qualified for any World Cup tournament.
"We were expelled from international football due to apartheid and never got to play in the inaugural tournament.
"We are also mindful of the fact that Ethiopia are yet to qualify for the World Cup and as a result this match will have an added significance," Nemantandani continued.
Nemantandani went onto boast of Bafana’s record since re-admission compared to Ethiopia’s, but stopped short of saying that this alone will guarantee them three points on Sunday.
"We know they are playing at home but we have strong focus and the determination to do well. Bafana Bafana is not about individuals but team work – and only teams win championships.
"The players need to do it for themselves and for the country because it means so much for them.
"These boys are on the verge of history in that in the current squad we have players who were part of the last World Cup in 2010, so for them to play in successive World Cups will be a major feat in their lifetime."
The last time the two teams met was in first round of FIFA World Cup qualifying fixtures over a year ago, in which the two teams drew 1-1 in Phokeng.
Nematandani then highlighted the significance of the date of the fixture, June 16.
"Thirty seven (37) years ago, none of the current Bafana Bafana players were around when many people lost their lives in the struggle to liberate our country.
"What a coincidence that this match takes place on this special day.
"And when they go into battle against Ethiopia the boys must remember those souls that passed on in pursuit of freedom for our country.
"That is the significance our boys need to remember that it is not just about the World Cup qualifier, but is also about the pride of this country and our liberation," said Nematandani.
"The good thing about the day is that the whole country will be focussing on this match and also remembering the past, so what a way to wipe their tears off with a victory to say those who went before did not die in vain."