8 October 2013
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund plans to use the friendly international match against Morocco on Friday to assess the talent available to him for the 2014 African Nations Championship (Chan).
The match will mark the opening of the Agadir New Stadium in Agadir City, a ground that will host the Fifa Club World Championships at the end of this year, as well as the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
South Africa travelled to Morocco on Monday evening without Kamogelo Mokotjo and Kagisho Dikgacoi, but with the late addition of striker Kermit Erasmus.
Mokotjo, who has been based in The Netherlands since 2009 and is currently with PEC Zwolle, withdrew because of an injury as did Dikgacoi, who is with English Premier League club Crystal Palace.
After their withdrawals, Igesund put in a late plea to Orlando Pirates for Erasmus; Pirates’ players were not previously selected for the match because of the Buccaneers’ CAF Champions League commitments. Pirates, however, agreed to release him for Friday’s match.
Igesund has included five uncapped players in his squad for the clash with the Atlas Lions: goalkeeper Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), defender Kgosi Ntlhe (Peterborough FC), midfielders, Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren FC) and Keagan Dolly (Ajax Cape Town FC).
South Africa and Morocco have played only four times previously, with South Africa winning twice and the two most recent matches, in 2004 and 2013, being drawn.
‘A two-pronged approach’
“Half of the team I selected will represent us in the Chan (African Nations Championships) while the other will feature in the qualifiers, so it’s a two-pronged approach,” Igesund said at the announcement of the South African squad last week.
Chan 2014 will be only the third edition of the event, which features national teams composed of players who play their football in their home countries.
South Africa did not make it to the first Chan finals in 2009, losing 3-0 on aggregate to Zimbabwe in the qualifiers. Hosted by the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo became the first ever winners of the Championship, defeating Ghana 2-0 in the final.
In 2011, Bafana Bafana edged past Botswana and Zambia, both on 2-1 aggregates, to qualify for the Chan finals.
South Africa topped Group B in the finals after beating Ghana 2-1, Niger 2-0, and Zimbabwe 2-1, but were defeated 2-0 by Algeria in the quarterfinals.
Tunisia, winners on penalties over Algeria in the semi-finals, then crushed Angola 3-0 to claim the title.
As hosts of the 2014 tournament, South Africa was an automatic qualifier for the finals.