By FOCUS REPORTER
The South African Development Team safely arrived in Sudan yesterday for the 2nd Orange African Nations Championship (CHAN) which will run from February 4-25.
Their Simon Ngomane coached side will play their first match against Ghana on Saturday, February 5 at 5.30pm, Sudan’s local time (4.30pm SA time) in Hilal, and then take on Niger (February 9) before wrapping up their group stage campaign against neighbours Zimbabwe on February 13.
Ngomane has since expressed his satisfaction about the team’ save trip and the camp they had in Mpumalanga’s capital city, Nelspruit.
“First of all let me thank the South African Football Association for their continued support for the team and I have no doubt that the support will continue during our stay in Sudan. The weather conditions are not as terrible as initially thought, and in fact they are almost similar to the ones back home. Our decision to hold camp in Mpumalanga, which was to acclimatise to the hot weather conditions, will help a great deal during the tournament. After the intensive training sessions and practice matches we played during our time in Nelspruit, I believe the team is physically and mentally ready for the task ahead,” said Ngomane.
Ngomane was forced to make last minute changes when Bloemfontein Celtic defender Thato Mogakabe could not travel with the team to Sudan, with Asaf Rantho of Mpumalanga Black Aces coming in as a replacement. Rantho was one of the three players on standby after the technical team trimmed the side to 23 from 40 players.
The coach thanked all the teams which released players to join the SA team and get the opportunity to don their national colours and represent their country in Sudan.
“I want to thank all the teams who have been able to give us their players, even though some of those teams are fighting for relegation or competing for promotion. What those teams have done is to give the players an opportunity to showcase their talents on a big stage by representing their country at this prestigious event. We want to assure the people of South Africa that we will not disappoint but will represent them well. We are going there to fight and we can only hope for positive results. All we can ask for is support from South Africans,” concluded Ngomane.
The opening match of the tournament will be between the hosts Sudan and Gabon in Khartoum on February 4.