Busy schedule for Bafana Bafana

Bafana Bafana head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira gets down to the business end of getting his players battle ready for the 2010 World Cup finals early next year with a hectic schedule which kicks off in Durban next month.

Bafana will play at least six official friendly matches and about 10 training matches against club teams in Brazil and Germany in the build up to the 2010 showpiece that kicks off at the new multi billion Soccer City on June 11 when Bafana host Mexico in the opening Group A match.

Bafana’s other Group A opponents are two former world champions, France and Uruguay.

Bafana team manager Sipho Nkumane, confirmed Bafana would play two friendly games against neighbouring countries during their two week camp in Durban from January 15 to 28 which has been organised for locally-based players only.

Said Nkumane: ”We are still finalising the details but we have planned two friendly games against southern African countries to help us get ready for June.”

Nkumane said in March the squad, including as many European based players he can get released, will be in Rio de Janeiro for the entire month.

Bafana had friendly games scheduled against Paraguay and Uruguay in March during their camp in Brazil, but due to the fact that Uruguay are in Bafana’s group during the 2010 World Cup, that friendly has been cancelled.

In April Bafana head for Germany for three weeks where they will play two friendly matches and a number of training games against club sides.

”We are looking for a replacement for Uruguay and should come up with a name soon.”

Nkumane said the South African Football Association would be writing to the English FA and other countries where Bafana players are employed in order to get them released for all or part of the camps in Brazil and Germany. Because these camps fall outside Fifa dates, clubs are not obliged to release players.

Parreira is concerned with the likes of Blackburn Rovers pair of Benni McCarthy and Elrio van Heerden, who are bench warmers, plus national captain Aaron Mokoena who is struggling to get game time for another struggling English Premiership side Portsmouth.

Parreira has warned that he will not include any player in the final World Cup squad unless he is satisfied they are fully fit.

”We are hoping clubs such as Blackburn and Portsmouth will release their players while we are not holding our breath for Pienaar, but that is not a worry as Pienaar is world class and plays week in and out for Everton.

It would be a bonus getting any of those players released for the camps [in Brazil and Germany].”

Nkumane said by playing two sides in South America and two in Europe, Bafana will have no excuses not to be ready for Mexico, Uruguay and France in the world showpiece.

”By the time we get to May and the head coach puts the fine tuning to the squad, they will have no excuses as the players will have been given every chance to get used to all styles of play we will meet in the opening round.” — Sapa

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