Johannesburg – It’s all a little after the Lord Mayor’s Show for Bafana Bafana as they leave for Agadir on Monday, where they will play a friendly against Morocco on Friday evening (kick-off 9pm SA time).
The game marks part of Morocco’s opening of the the Agadir New Stadium, which will host both the Fifa Club World Championships at the end of this year and the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Both the Atlas Lions and Bafana Bafana would, however, no doubt prefer to be taking part in the play-offs for qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this weekend.
Instead, after finishing behind the Ivory Coast and Ethiopia respectively, both sides will have to turn their attention to preparations for the 2015 continental showpiece.
For Bafana’s part, Gordon Igesund’s side need to snap the running joke that Bafana only qualify for tournaments that they host. The 2008 Africa Cup of Nations is the last major competition that South Africa actually made it to as part of the qualification process.
Igesund’s current contract runs out in July, but he has spoken confidently about future plans for both the 2015 Afcon and the 2018 World Cup in Russia. New South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan has not exactly backed Igesund to the hilt, but it would be slightly absurd were Bafana’s coach not given the chance to at least qualify for Morocco.
After all, Igesund has yet to take charge of Bafana for an entire qualifying campaign, and didn’t do too badly in the bid for Brazil, when you consider that he took over with two points gained from two matches, and added a further nine from the next four games.
Igesund’s squad to face Morocco hints at the future, while also retaining many familiar names.
“In the squad, every player can be understudy to a certain player come 2015,” explained Igesund when naming the squad last week.
“It is five years to the 2018 World Cup and we need to develop players. The senior players have a huge role when you put the young players in the squad. They need to learn from the senior players.”
And so it is that youngsters like Kamohelo Mokotjo and Ayanda Patosi find themselves alongside more experienced faces like Dean Furman and Anele Ngcongca.
Another experienced man, midfielder Kagiso Dikgacoi was ruled out on Friday with a hamstring injury, Igesund saying he will not replace him in the squad.
Igesund denied that he would have been better off fielding a side in preparation for the African Nations Championships (CHAN) in South Africa early next year, a tournament for local-based players only. “There are a lot of top quality young players in Europe and we have this opportunity to play Morocco,” he said.
“I will have time to develop a team for CHAN, which is local-based and we are playing a formidable team in Morocco. In preparation for CHAN there are two dates in November.”
Morocco have picked a strong squad for the Bafana game, with the likes of Fulham attacking midfielder Adil Taarabt, Dynamo Kiev winger Younes Belhanda and Malaga striker Mounir El Hamdaoui all included in Rachid Taoussi’s squad.
Bafana also hope to play a training match against a Moroccan club side in Agadir on Monday, October 14.