Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba said there will be nothing friendly about their 2015 Nelson Mandela Challenge against Senegal on September 8.
According to the supersport.com website, Bafana play the Teranga Lions in the 21st edition of this annual event played in honour of former State President Nelson Mandela to raise funds for needy communities. The match will be played at Orlando Stadium three days after Bafana’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Mauritania.
“We are going to win this one,” Mashaba boldly declared. “There has never been a friendly game between nations. There's a lot at stake. They will come here spitting fire and we will be prepared for them.”
Senegal return to SA for the third time for the same event after featuring in the 2002 edition, which they won 4-1 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in regulation time. They also played in the 2005 edition in Port Elizabeth, which they also won 3-2.
“Senegal will be a good team to play. We want to avenge the two times they have beaten us. They are one of the strongest teams to play on the continent,” he said.
The Mandela Challenge has over the years featured some prominent teams like Argentina in 1995 at Ellis Park Stadium. That match ended in a 1-1 draw. Former African champions Zambia were the first to play Bafana in this match in 1994 – a 2-1 win for the hosts. Other teams include Brazil (1996), Netherlands (1997), Nigeria (2004 and 2013), Egypt (1998, 2006) and so forth.
There will be no different squad picked for the Mandela Challenge as Mashaba will use the same team that will play Mauritania in the 2017 Afcon qualifiers.
Meanwhile, SA Football Association CEO Dennis Mumble said they had received a few other invitations without naming any specific counties but added that Senegal were the right opponent at this stage.
So far SAFA has contribute over R20 million to this initiative, according to Mumble, who added that there will be a substantial increase this year – R1.5 million as opposed to the R1 million they have contributed annually in the past.
“From the first game that South Africa played against Zambia at the FNB Stadium in 1994, to the very last one against Ivory Coast at Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga last year, the Nelson Mandela Challenge has been a 20-year journey that has seen the Fund and SAFA being fellow travelers to raise awareness for the cause of children, bring cheer to the football-loving community and celebrating Madiba’s legacy,” said Ms Sibongile Mkhabela, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
“A nation that works, dreams, plays and fills sports fields with cheering fans and shining stars but never forgets to spare a thought for its children, is the one that Madiba established the Fund for. Every edition of Nelson Mandela Challenge is a reminder that there is no better foundation for any nation that its children. We are deeply honoured that every stakeholder that never tires to make this tournament possible, subscribes to the joy of making children’s life a celebration.”