Bafana Bafana’s preparations ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) opening match against Ivory Coast next week were dealt a blow after Angola pulled out of a training match hours before kick off.
Coach Stuart Baxter’s charges open their Afcon account at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Monday and they were hoping to use the Angola encounter to prepare for the Ivorians.
“Angola has cancelled today’s practice match with Bafana Bafana, citing lack of training as the reason. Angola says they have not had any training since arriving in Egypt two days ago‚” it was announced on @BafanaBafana twitter account.
Baxter’s squad has had one tough training match so far and it is debatable if the friendly against Ghana was enough to iron out whatever kinks that may still exist for the start of the tournament.
Midfielder Dean Furman elected to look on the bright side and insisted that not only would the team be ready by Monday‚ they would produce better performances than those of the 2015 SA team that crashed in the opening stages of the continental tournament.
“We were hoping to stay here for a long time and obviously the pre-tournament camp has been pretty good‚” said Furman after the team’s first training session in Egypt.
“The good thing is that it’s probably 10 degrees cooler here [than in Dubai] and we have acclimatised. So there’s good spirit‚ good Afcon vibe here and we had a nice welcome. The excitement is starting to build among the players and staff.”
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Bafana will face 1992 and 2015 champions Ivory Coast and 1976 winners Morocco in group D. Namibia are the fourth team in the group.
Morocco and Namibia play their opening match on Sunday and this means Baxter will have an opportunity to run the rule over his rivals.
Furman said Bafana had a few things to improve on after watching a video of their training match against Ghana.
“We started the game very well playing against Africa's top side. Some [Ghana] players are from top leagues in the world‚” said the SuperSport United skipper. “We’ve watched the video and there’s things to improve on.”