Bafana welcome champions

2012-11-12 13:05

Cape Town - South Africa will continue their preparation for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations when they take on reigning continental champions Zambia in the Nelson Mandela Challenge at Soccer City on Wednesday evening.

Kick-off is at 20:00.

This will be the 18th edition of the NMC and is a repeat of the inaugural edition in 1994 when Bafana Bafana defeated Zambia 2-1 at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg.

Overall, the teams have met no less than 14 times since South Africa’s readmission into the international fold 20 years ago. Each side has claimed four wins against one another, and there have been six draws. Chipolopolo have outscored Bafana 15 goals to 14.

With the Nations Cup on home soil looming, Zambia, the tournament’s reigning champions after their triumph in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea early in 2012, are the perfect opponents for coach Gordon Igesund to test out his plans.

Chipolopolo, led by charismatic French coach Herve Renard, are a highly-talented and well organised team, whose experience of South African conditions (they often train in in the country, while several of their national team players are on the books of PSL clubs) puts them amongst the favourites for the 2013 AFCON title.

As for Bafana, they will be looking to build on the momentum gained with a 2-1 away win over Kenya in Nairobi last month. Igesund has a 100 percent record against African opponents in his short tenure so far, and retaining that statistic will go a long way toward lifting the confidence ahead of the big tournament next year.

Though Zambia have been regular opponents for South Africa down the years, the teams have not met in more than three years. A 1-0 friendly win for Bafana in January 2009 (courtesy of a goal from Teko Modise, who is part of the present squad) was the last meeting of the sides.

Bafana have had to deal with some injury problems in the build-up to the match, as Orlando Pirates duo Siyabonga Sangweni and Oupa Manyisa have both been ruled out. Siboniso Gaxa of Kaizer Chiefs was called up as a replacement for Sangweni.