11 October 2013
Tickets for Friday evening’s friendly international between Bafana Bafana and Morocco at the new Agadir Stadium in Agadir City, Morocco, are sold out.
The ground, which has been built for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, has a capacity of 45 480.
South African coach Gordon Igesund, on his arrival in Agadir City, was very positive, telling the South African Football Association (Safa): “The spirit is high and the boys are raring to go. This is the beginning of a new era.”
Five new caps
The match is certainly the beginning of a new era for the five new caps in the squad: goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, defender Kgosi Ntlhe, and midfielders Sibusiso Vilakazi, Ayanda Patosi and Keagan Dolly.
In an interview with Safa on Thursday, Williams said that, whether he played or not, there were some things he wanted to take away from his time with the national team.
“The experience is paramount obviously, just the feeling of being here, the mentality needed to stay here and to see how the guys do things,” Williams said. “It is not easy playing for the national team, because all the best players are here.”
‘It is not going to be easy’
Looking ahead to the game against Morocco, Williams added: “I have heard that they selected a strong squad with players from overseas, so it is not going to be an easy game. But I still believe we stand a good chance to return home victorious.”
With few opportunities to see his players in action before the third African Nations Championship, which South Africa will be hosting from 11 January to 1 February, Igesund will be using the match to assess the performances of some players.
The African Nations Championship finals features 16 teams, comprising players who play their football in their home countries.
The Bafana Bafana line-up is far from watered-down for Friday’s clash, however. Part of the agreement to open the new Agadir Stadium was that South Africa would field its strongest possible team.
“The guys are fired up for the game,” Igesund told Safa on Thursday. “They all want to play and that’s always difficult for the coach because you can’t play everybody, but I have to find the right balance, mix the youngsters with the experienced players.
“Most of the youngsters are looking very sharp and they could give us something tomorrow. I have my starting 11, but there are one or two I need to confirm.”
Revealing something about his starting line-up, Igesund added: “I want to see the team stabilised in the first half, and you can expect to see players like Sibusiso Vilakazi, Daylon Claasen, and I am even thinking of giving Siyanda Xulu a chance at the back – so you could see about four youngsters in there.
“We have to give them a chance and see them progress because these are the future stars.”
While South Africa and Morocco have played only four times, their most recent meeting, at the Africa Cup of Nations in Durban in January, was a real humdinger. It ended 2-2 after an entertaining back-and-forth battle.
After that result, Bafana Bafana progressed to the quarterfinals as the top finisher in Group A, while Morocco exited the tournament after drawing all three of their matches.
Morocco will be keen to produce a winning start at the new venue, while Bafana Bafana, after a disappointing 2-1 loss by a home-based team to Zimbabwe in their last outing, will not want to lose successive matches.
Kick-off is at 21:00 South African time. The match will be broadcast on SABC 1 and on DSTV on SuperSport 4.