Bafana Bafana

Safer venue for Bafana-CAR tie

2013-05-06 16:18
Gordon Igesund (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana will play their return leg 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Central African Republic (CAR) in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde, the SA Football Association (SAFA) said in a statement on Monday.

SAFA requested FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) move the match, scheduled for June 9, to a neutral venue because of political unrest in the CAR.

"I am happy the venue issue has finally been settled," said Bafana coach Gordon Igesund.

"I must commend SAFA, FIFA and CAF for making this happen because we lost our loved ones there not so long ago and the environment is still too tense to have a match in that country. It would definitely not have been the right atmosphere to play there."

Thirteen South African soldiers died in skirmishes with the rebels in the CAR capital Bangui two months ago.

The number of casualties rose to 14 after one of the wounded soldiers died late last month.

"It would be silly of me to say that now we are playing at a neutral venue, it will favour us. It will still be a very tough match, but the advantage is, it will be away from the intimidation of the home crowd," Igesund said.

"We will definitely be having our own supporters in the stands; which is a plus for us. We played well against them in the home leg but they showed they are a formidable side, so we need to be on guard and not take things lightly.

"We should get all three points here and keep the pressure on Ethiopia who are two points ahead of us in the group. We cannot afford to lose this match."

A week after the clash with the CAR, South Africa face Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on June 16.

"We are going to need warriors going into those two matches and we have to be mentally strong," Igesund said.

"I believe I have those players so I am not worried. In fact, things are looking good for us.

"We have been inspired by the heroics of Orlando Pirates in Lubumbashi (DRC) on Sunday. They showed a lot of character when the odds were heavily stacked against them. We should take a leaf off their book."

South Africa host Botswana in the last match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stages, in September at a venue still to be determined.


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