Molefi Ntseki will get to show what he can do with Bafana Bafana when they face Mali on Sunday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

DURBAN – The match between Bafana Bafana and Mali in Port Elizabeth on Sunday may be a friendly but it is important for a number of reasons, one of them being a chance to honour Madiba at a venue named after the struggle icon.

Branded the Nelson Mandela Challenge, this year’s match will also provide a platform for the authorities to speak up against xenophobia following the attacks on foreign nationals which led to African countries withdrawing their scheduled games against SA.

On the football pitch, Bafana are unbeaten at Mandela’s showpiece for the past four years and they will be out to defend that impressive record. Last year they drew with Paraguay at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium and so shared the trophy. The last time Bafana lost in the competition was back in 2013 at the expense of Nigeria, who won 2-0, also at Moses Mabhida.

The South Africans have come back strongly since then. In 2014, Bongani Zungu turned out to be a hero for Bafana netting a brace in a 2-0 win over Ivory Coast at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

The winning streak continued for Bafana in 2015 and 2016 as Mpho Makola emerged as the matchwinner on both occasions against Senegal and Mali respectively.

The competition was not played in 2017 but last year Bafana fought hard to share the spoils with Paraguay.

The third, and perhaps the most important factor about this game, is that it is a debut outing for coach Molefi Ntseki.

@Minenhlecr7


The Mercury

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