Bafana Bafana's encounter with lowly-ranked Chad in Durban on Saturday has taken on a look of even more comfort after revelations of upheaval in the opposition camp by embattled coach O'Kalah Natoltiga.
He says that due to disciplinary problems and financial instability, coupled with a sad reality that they have no chance left of qualifying for the African Nations' Cup in Ghana next January, only five players remain from the already-struggling squad that went down 3-0 to Bafana in the previous qualifier at home in March.
With a mixture of disappointment and African realism, he says several players have been thrown out of the national team after complaining about poor conditions.
But their replacements for Saturday's return Group 11 clash at Absa Stadium are generally young and inexperienced.
Furthermore, they may not be in peak shape because the domestic league in Chad only started this month, which is why they are training twice a day in Durban compared to Bafana's routine of one session daily stemming from the bulk of coach Carlos Alberto Parreira's men having just finished lengthy club campaigns.
"We had disciplinary problems, a money problem. The federation and the coaching staff took a joint decision to leave out those players who were not satisfied and complained," said the French-speaking Natoltiga through an interpreter at his team's beachfront hotel on Wednesday.
"We have 15 new players in the squad, young players from the league in Chad. We started our preparations two weeks ago and we are struggling to build a new team. We need lots of physical and tactical preparations."
It sounded as though he did not expect his players to even hold out for a draw on Saturday by packing their defence.
"The target is the future, not this match. From this game we'll see which players to keep as we build a new team," he explained.
The five men remaining from the earlier clash with Bafana are defenders Armand Djerabe and Cesar Madalngue, midfielder Abrahim Ahmat and forwards Hillaire Kedigui and Betolngar Misdongar.
Of some comfort to Natoltiga's minnows from a desert land was the warmish weather in Durban.
"When we were leaving Chad, we feared it was going to be cold in South Africa because it's supposed to be winter, but we find it is okay here," said the coach.
However, the grim overall picture painted by him made the prolonged absence of Benni McCarthy from Bafana look trivial by comparison.
He said his countrymen hoped South Africa would go on to build a strong team as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup, but judging from the game in March, that meant they needed to form a stronger unit from the host of "talented individual players".
Defence, in his opinion, needed particular attention.
The home side's technical staff had a full complement of players to work with at Chatsworth Stadium yesterday after the arrival of Swiss-based winger Delron Buckley.
The Durban-born star had been given permission to focus on club commitments earlier in the week and make a late arrival in camp.
Meanwhile, changes have been made to the schedule of the Mvela Platinum Play-offs semi-finals next week, due to the unavailability of certain stadia for the original dates.
But there is a possibility of even further changes because there are a couple of disciplinary cases on the go that effectively involve Dynamos trying to replace fellow Limpopo-based side City Pillars in the play-offs through the back door.
As things currently stand, the first match will feature Pillars and AmaZulu at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane next Tuesday (8pm).
The other semi-final, first leg between University of Pretoria and Winners Park, will take place at LC de Villiers Stadium in the country's capital next Wednesday (8pm).
AmaZulu's second leg against Pillars is set for Saturday, June 9, at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu (3.15pm), with the other clash following the next day at Seshego Stadium (3.15pm).
The final will kick off the following weekend.