BAFANA Bafana will play Central African Republic (CAR) in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier at a neutral venue in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé on June 9.
The match will be played at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo on a Sunday. Details of the kick-off are still to be relayed.
The appeal to move the match came from the South African Football Association (SAFA) who requested FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to move the return leg with CAR to a neutral venue following political unrest in that country. Thirteen South African soldiers died in skirmishes with the rebels in that country’s capital Bangui two months ago. The number of casualties rose to 14 after one of the wounded soldiers died late last month.
“I am happy that the venue issue has finally been settled. 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,” said Bafana coach Gordon Igesund.
“But it would be silly of me to say that now that 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.
“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,” added Igesund.
Bafana team manager Barney Kujane will soon leave for Yaoundé to go and do a fact-finding mission and work on logistics ahead of the squad’s travel to Cameroon.
A week after the clash with the CAR, South Africa will face Ethiopia in the capital Addis Ababa on June 16 in Addis Ababa at 4pm (3pm SA time).
“We are going to need warriors going into those two matches and we have to be mentally strong. I believe I have those players so I am not worried. In fact things are looking good for us.
“Also we have been inspired by the heroics of Orlando Pirates in Lubumbashi on Sunday. They showed a lot of character when the odds were heavily stacked against them. We should take a leaf off their book,” added Igesund.
South Africa will host Botswana in the last match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stages. The match will be played in September at a venue still to be determined.