Molefi Ntseki coach of Bafana Bafana. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI / GALLO IMAGES
Molefi Ntseki coach of Bafana Bafana. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI / GALLO IMAGES

Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki believes Madagascar will serve as ideal opponents to prepare for their back-to-back 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers in November.

The South Africans host the Indian Ocean islanders in a friendly international at Orlando Stadium in Soweto and Ntseki‚ who replaced Briton Stuart Baxter as head coach last week‚ will take charge of Bafana for the first time (kickoff 7pm and entrance is free) on Saturday.

Madagascar stepped in after Bafana’s initial opponents Zambia pulled out on Tuesday in response to the latest wave of xenophobic violence in SA. After Zambia pulled out, the SA  Football Association (Safa) moved swiftly to secure a replacement and a day later confirmed Madagascar as their next opponents.

“Madagascar are a very good team and I think they are a very good replacement‚” said Ntseki. “Remember we were with Madagascar at the Afcon in Egypt. They did well and are a physical team‚ and show a lot of commitment in their game.”

Bafana have kept busy in the past few days and beat NFD team Moroka Swallows 6-0 in a practice match at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on Wednesday.

“We are ready for them. All that is important is to prepare our team in such a way that when we play Ghana and Sudan in November in the Afcon qualifiers at least we know each other well‚ and we have a tactical understanding of what is expected of us‚” said the Bafana coach who has served as assistant to three previous head coaches.

Bafana will begin qualification for the 2021 Afcon finals away in Ghana who are top seeds with Bafana second, while Sudan are third. These sides will face the winner of an October play-off two-leg tie between Mauritius or Sao Tome e Principe.

Should Mauritius go through‚ Saturday’s friendly could prove vital for when the two nations lock horns again for qualification for the next Afcon finals.

If Mauritius beat Sao Tome e Principe they will join Ghana‚ Sudan and Bafana.

Ntseki said Madagascar have a similar playing style to Mauritius.

They [Madagascar and Mauritius] are neighbours and they are French-speaking countries and if we have to play Mauritius‚ and at least we would have an idea of what to expect‚” he said.

Bafana will travel to Accra on November 11 and then play Sudan at home in their second qualifier four days later.