Cape Town - Bafana Bafana have completed their preparations for the 20th edition of the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge clash against Cote d’Ivoire which will be played on Sunday at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.
Following a slow start with players pulling out of the national team, Bafana Bafana managed to squeeze in two training sessions in Nelspruit.
safa.net confirmed that Siyabonga Zulu of Chippa United sat out the last training session on Saturday morning, and was ruled out of the match due to an ankle injury.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time with the players but everything went well. We were able to address a few aspects of our play but we managed to reach our objectives. It is going to be a tough game without doubt because we also know what Cote d’Ivoire can offer.
“They have also been in the country for some time and put in a couple of training sessions, but we are ready for the match and I am confident we will match them. The boys have shown grit and commitment at training and we can only hope the combination we will put out will see us through,” said Mashaba.
The coach and his technical team have been working hard to motivate and players and to get them in the right frame of mind for this important clash.
“We have set a standard for Bafana Bafana where we are looking for excellence. Despite the limited time we had to train, we don’t have concerns because all these players are professionals and know what is expected of them.
“What will motivate them is a seat on the plane to Equatorial Guinea next year, and we made them aware that they stand an equal chance of being part of the team just like those who played the AFCON qualifiers,” added Mashaba.
“After tomorrow’s match, what would make me happy is seeing one or two players or even more from this squad going with us to the AFCON tournament. That would be an achievement for us as it will also work as a motivating factor to all the players that there is always a chance to play for Bafana Bafana, it is not for a select few.”
Mashaba also appealed to the fans to support the good cause brought about by the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
“It would be nice for the people to come out in numbers because this match is not about points, it is for a good cause and their monies will not be wasted but instead will go towards the building of the children’s hospital. Alternatively people can pledge their support by smsing the word “GIFT” to 40301 where an sms costs R20,” concluded Mashaba.
The Bafana Bafana mentor will announce his starting eleven tonight (Saturday, November 29).