15 January 2013
President Jacob Zuma visited Bafana Bafana at their training base at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday to wish them well ahead of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Afcon 2013 kicks off on Saturday when South Africa take on Cape Verde at Johannesburg’s National Stadium, and ends at the same venue on 10 February.
Zuma said he was confident that the team will make the country proud. “I have seen the team, they are well prepared and they will showcase what they are made of. We are satisfied that the team is ready. I want to touch the cup,” he said.
Zuma, who was accompanied by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and South African Football Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani, advised the team not to listen to their critics but to focus on what they do best.
“Some of the critics have never touched a soccer ball and they cannot even play soccer, theirs is to criticise,” Zuma said, assuring the team that the country was behind them.
Bafana in high spirits
Bafana returned to training on Monday morning after enjoying a much-needed day off on Sunday following their goalless draw in a warmup match against Algeria at Orlando Stadium on Saturday evening.
Despite the draw, the team was in high spirits.
“We are not feeling any strain, even though pressure is always there whether you are winning or losing,” Midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi told SAnews. “Ours is just to focus on the 90 minutes, win our first game and take it from there. I believe with the backing of the nation we will succeed.”
Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune said: “Yes, we have to be excited. This is a very crucial week for us, and we have to ensure that our preparations run smoothly so that we are ready for the opening match.
“The experience of playing in the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and the 2010 Fifa World Cup, both on home soil, should come in handy for Bafana Bafana in this tournament,” Khune said.
“We have all been working hard and, mark my words, we will do well.”