Bafana Bafana will be departing for Ghana for the Africa Cup of Nations on January 19 following a two-week camp in Durban.
The team will then be based in Tamale, where their first two Group D games will take place. This was revealed by the head of a Safa delegation to the country, Shoes Mazibuko at Safa House on Wednesday.
The three-man delegation, comprising Mazibuko, Bafana assistant coach Pitso Mosimane and team manager Sipho Nkumane, arrived home this week following their trip to Ghana to inspect facilities ahead of the tournament that runs from January 20 to February 10. “Inspection of facilities was done and I want to commend the High Commission of South Africa based in Ghana for all their assistance. We first went to Kumasi, where the team will be playing their third group game, and we were highly-impressed with the stadium, the facilities and the pitch, which is brilliant.
“Then we were off to Sunyani, where we were considering staying, but despite good accommodation we opted against it because the training fields were not in a good enough condition.
“The other reason is that temperature in Sunyani is around 30 degrees and the place is about 300-kilometres from Tamale, where we will be playing our first two games. We then arrived at the decision to be based in Tamale, where heat is around 40 degrees. This will help the players to acclimatise to conditions because that is more in line with temperatures in the rest of Ghana.”
Mazibuko adds that there are still challenges in Tamale though, as the training pitches are not yet ready.
“We had a meeting with the Local Organising Committee and CAF and we were told that all the teams in our group are also affected by this problem. We were, however, assured that by the time the Nations Cup starts, everything will be normal.
“Ghana has roped in specialists from UK to ensure that they meet the dates. CAF was even threatening Ghana they could take away the finals, but it looks like everything will be OK by the time we get there. There is also the possibility of using the stadium where the group matches will be played in a worse case scenario,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Safa media officer Sifiso Cele reveals that the team will camp in Durban from January 5. International training matches against Mozambique on January 13 and Botswana on January 16 in Chatsworth have been confirmed. Caps for the two games will not be awarded.
Mazibuko, pressed to comment on the issue of player payments, had this to say:
“We will release information when all the players have agreed to the bonus structure that we have put to them. It is important that we respect the players and we cannot just release that information.
“I can also tell you that the association is giving all the support it can to the national team coach to create an environment conducive for players to perform well in Ghana. This was the reason that the coach sat together with the president, Molefi Oliphant, CEO Raymond Hack and team manager Sipho Nkumane to discuss these incentives.”