Cape Town - South Africa face a tough challenge away to Sudan on Friday evening as they kick-off Group A of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The teams have never met in a senior official match before despite being founding members of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), making this something of a historic encounter.
The match will also mark Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba’s first in charge of Bafana Bafana since being appointed the new coach in July.
‘Shakes’ has picked a youthful, inexperienced squad for the match against Sudan and reigning African champions Nigeria, which takes place next midweek.
However, the squad has been hit by a few withdrawals, with the loss of first choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune (who was by far the most experienced player in the squad) a particularly severe blow.
Exciting attacking midfielder Ayanda Patosi is also ruled out after missing his connection from Belgium. However, Mashaba says he is happy with the group of players.
“I am glad with this group of players I am travelling with. We are going there to fight, make no mistake,” said Mashaba.
However, Sudan will be no pushovers, especially on home soil. The Falcons of Jediane lost 3-1 to Zambia in a warm-up friendly, but coach Mohamed ‘Mazda’ Abdallah insists they are determined to overcome Bafana.
“The 3-1 loss to Zambia in an international friendly has made us even [more] hungry to stop South Africa. The boys are geared up towards that game and will die a little for the country,” said ‘Mazda’.
Kick-off on Friday is at 19:00 SA time.