Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has made some few changes to the original Nelson Mandela Challenge squad he announced on Tuesday to face Ivory Coast in the 20th edition of the event. South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire meet on Sunday at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. The match kicks off at 15:00.
With the match not falling on a FIFA calendar, some clubs have refused to release players though most, for the sake of the late global icon’s legacy, have given coach Shakes Mashaba their unqualified support. Kaizer Chiefs are the only club not to have released their players while Ayabulela Magqwaka (Ajax Cape Town) is facing disciplinary issues with his club and Orlando Pirates’ Oupa Manyisa has been excused in order to recuperate. Mashaba has meanwhile brought in Brandon Petersen, Abbubakar Mobara and Thami Sangweni (all Ajax Cape Town), Chris Komane (Chippa United), Phumlani Ntshangase (Bidvest Wits), Motjeka Madisha (Mamelodi Sundowns) and Siphelele Luthuli (University of Pretoria).
“People are aware that this match falls outside the FIFA calendar and that is why we want to thank all clubs that have made their players available. All the players should be in camp by tonight as some are travelling because they played last night, while others requested to report late. Cancelling this training session (Thursday afternoon) is a not a blow because as I said, most of them played on Tuesday and Wednesday night and we would not have had a heavy session anyway,” Mashaba on Thursday. Despite the minor setbacks of certain players withdrawing, Mashaba says the match remains important ahead of next January’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Equatorial Guinea, “There is no national team match that is less important. Over the years we have seen the countries that come out to play against Bafana Bafana in this competition and it shows how big the Nelson Mandela Challenge has become and we can’t take this match lightly. But what we would like to see is that it becomes an official match in our league here at home and also on the FIFA Calendar. We need to have a fixed date where everyone knows when it will be played, because it is for a good cause. This idea started small but has grown to be an international encounter,” added Mashaba.
Bafana Bafana will travel to Mpumalanga on Friday morning. Their first stop will be a visit to the SOS Children’s Home in KaMagugu to spend some time with the little ones. The South Africans will have their training session at the Mbombela Stadium in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the Ivorians have already arrived in Nelspruit.
They will hold their training sessions at Ingwenyama Lodge on Friday and at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.