SAFA charters flight for Bafana
SAFA CEO Leslie Sedibe (Gallo)
Johannesburg - The SA Football Association (SAFA) has opted against using a commercial airline and decided instead to charter a flight to get Bafana Bafana to Sierra Leone for its 2012 African Nations Cup qualifier against the Leone Stars on October 10.
"We had an unpleasant experience with our SA under-17 squad going to Burkina Faso on a commercial flight where luggage was lost recently and want to avoid this, so we have decided to charter a flight for the game," said SAFA CEO Leslie Sedibe.
"The main reason we decided to charter a flight was due to the fact that to get to Sierra Leone, which is in West Africa, we need to catch a regular flight to Nairobi, in Kenya, then fly to Ghana and from there catch a flight to Freetown.
"That would mean the squad would be travelling for up to 36-hours. We had to avoid this," he said.
"By chartering a flight, the team could leave OR Tambo Airport at 09:00 on October 8 and arrive in Freetown the same day, while it was still light.
On their arrival in Freetown, which is on an island, the players would travel by bus to a ferry to be taken to their hotel on the mainland.
"It is a mental as well as a physically challenge for the players and technical team, so we want to smooth it out as much as we can."
Playing in African countries has proved demanding for Bafana in the past 18 years.
"It has happened that when a team arrives in a country the hotel is not booked for the players," said acting Bafana team manager Barney Kujane, who recently headed a fact-finding mission sent to Freetown ahead of the qualifier.
Bafana head their qualifying group, after their 2-0 home win over Niger in the opening Afcon qualifier earlier this month. Sierra Leone shocked African champions Egypt with a 1-1 draw in Cairo.
Bafana head coach Pitso Mosimane knows what to expect in Sierra Leone.
He was assistant coach to Bafana head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira in 2008 when Bafana lost 1-0 in a 2010 African Nations Cup qualifier in Freetown in June 2008.
Mosimane is determined not to use the bad conditions or the travelling as an excuse.
"We as a squad have to learn to fight our way out of difficulties. I am not going to use conditions here as an excuse if we do not win.
"We have to stand up and be counted and show our supporters we have guts and can get results in difficult away matches."