It's tough at the top
Nowhere else in the world do national teams play two games in the space of 24 hours. But that is what is expected of the winning semifinalists in the Confederations of Southern African Football Association (Cosafa) Cup.
Defending champions Angola take on Zimbabwe in the first match on Saturday in Mmabatho, and Bafana Bafana face Zambia in the second game. The winners play the final the following day.
Bafana Bafana, who returned from the Gold Cup in the United States a few weeks ago, are expected to put in another thrilling performance against Zambia, despite not enjoying ideal preparations for the match.
Coach Stuart Baxter has had to beg clubs to release players as this tournament does not fall on Fifa dates — meaning sides are within their rights to refuse his requests.
Seven of the squad come from Supersport United, who do not have a Premier Soccer League or SAA Supa 8 fixture this weekend.
Baxter said: “We are all guilty of lack of preparations for this game.” He is disappointed to have been able to arrange just two training sessions with the players, while Zambia has been in camp for five days.
After the Cosafa Cup, Bafana Bafana travel to Reykjavik to play Iceland on Wednesday in a friendly to prepare for next month’s African Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso.
The last time Bafana played Iceland was in 1998 and they drew 1-1.
Baxter said the game against Iceland would be tough as the hosts have top-class players, such as Eidur Gudjohnsen of Chelsea.
The side for the friendly would be composed of players who participated in the Cosafa Cup and some of South Africa’s European-based stars.