Bafana ready for ‘whatever happens’ against Super Eagles
• S’ Africa trains on pitch similar to Akpabio Stadium
Bafana Bafana Team Manager, Barney Kujane does not like surprises and is well prepared for whatever happens when the national team faces nemesis Nigeria in an away 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier on June 10, reports www.sowetanlive.co.za
Kujane was in Nigeria to inspect facilities a few days ago and he told Times Media Digital yesterday he’s done everything in his power to ensure that preparations for new Bafana coach, Stuart Baxter’s first game at the helm run as smoothly as possible.
Bafana have never beaten Nigeria in an official match and cannot afford to be distracted by off-the-field diversions ahead of a crucial encounter like this one.
‘‘If you leave South Africa and you have not done your homework‚ a surprise in Nigeria can cause complete disarray to the coach’s plans and to the players‚” Kujane said.
‘‘When you are the national team manager‚ you have got to make sure that there are no surprises for the coach.‘‘I do not like surprises. This is the first game for the coach and our first game in the 2019 Afcon qualifiers. So we cannot afford to start the qualifiers on the back foot.”
Kujane visited Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo State‚ the match venue‚ and he told Baxter that the game will be played on a normal grass pitch. He took several photographs for good measure and the Bafana coach now has a pretty good idea of what the surface will look like.
Kujane said the stadium’s pitch is similar to the surface at FNB Stadium and as a result Bafana will use the 2010 World Cup venue as their training venue from Sunday until departure to Nigeria next Wednesday.
This meticulous planning is a departure from the chaos that marked Bafana’s preparations for their 2017 African Nations Cup qualifier against Mauritania under former coach Ephraim ‘‘Shakes” Mashaba in September 2017.
Mashaba was not aware that the Stade Olympique de Nouakchott had an artificial pitch and none of the practice sessions in Johannesburg were conducted on the surface.
‘‘I really do not foresee any problems in Nigeria‚” Kujane said.‘‘The only small concern I have is the travelling distance from our hotel to the match venue. It is quite a distance and it should take us about 45 minutes.‘‘But we will have a police escort and that should hopefully make things a little bit easier.”