/ 1 July 2011

Bafana Bafana get a replacement for Nigeria

The South African Football Association (Safa) is not overly concerned about Nigeria’s controversial withdrawal from August’s friendly game against Bafana Bafana, according to Safa president Kirsten Nematandani.

“We’ve got what is arguably an even more attractive African line-up in store for Bafana on the same date [August 10],” Nematandani said on Friday.

“I’m not releasing any names, after the Nigerian experience, before everything is 100% tied up.

“But the country with which we have reached an advanced stage of negotiations has a higher ranking than Bafana and contains a number of exciting, world-class players.”

The Safa boss said providing Bafana with stern opposition in the warm-up match before their crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September and October had been viewed as a priority.

“We immediately took steps to secure the best possible replacement after Nigeria had backed down from and earlier commitment,” he said.

Nematandani added that Safa did not intend to pursue any action against Nigeria for reneging on the decision to play Bafana in preference to a game against Ghana in London on the same date.

This despite the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) having let down South Africa in similar circumstances in the past.

“We received an apology from the NFF in which they stated their players, who are mainly based in Europe, felt playing in England instead of making a longer trip to South Africa was a more agreeable proposition,” Nematandani said.

“It’s hardly a satisfactory reason after you have already made a commitment, but I think it reflects the problems the NFF might have more than anything else.

“From Safa’s point of view, however, we would rather look forward instead of harping on the Nigeria issue and seeking to redress it through some form of compensation, or a complaint to Fifa.” — Sapa