South Africa’s first international soccer match of the year will no longer be shown live on South African television after kick-off was brought forward by two and a half hours.
Bafana Bafana face Equatorial Guinea at 6pm in Bata on Friday night in a friendly international that was initially scheduled to start at 8.30pm.
“We promised to show the game at 8.30pm,” SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said on Friday afternoon.
“That was our agreement with Safa [South African Football Association] and that was their agreement with Equatorial Guinea. The time of the match has changed and we can no longer show the game live.”
Safa said in a statement on Thursday that the match, a warm-up for the host nation ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament later this month, had been brought forward at the request of Equatorial Guinea President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
“The president of the country … requested that the match be played at an earlier time to accommodate his counterparts from neighbouring countries [Chad and Cameroon] who have been invited to the match so they can be able to fly back to their countries immediately after the clash,” Safa said.
Kganyago said the SABC would show a delayed broadcast of the match at the original kick-off time.
‘Our side of the deal’
“It is unfortunate that the president of Equatorial Guinea instructed for the game to be played earlier. We will, however, stick to our side of the deal and the match will be shown at 8.30pm.”
The game was initially scheduled for Thursday night in the capital, Malabo, but Safa said on Monday it had been delayed by a day. The clash would form part of the official opening ceremony of the Nkoantoma Stadium, one of the Afcon venues.
The South African team’s preparations for the match were thrown into disarray when they arrived in the country after an eight-hour flight to find their accommodation was not ready.
Their first training sessions was expected to be held on Tuesday after their flight landed but was pushed back a day while they waited to settle in.
“They … could not find rooms at their hotel as they were only expected on the next day,” Safa said in a statement.
“The South African delegation spent the afternoon milling around waiting for their accommodation to be sorted, which was only done late at night.”
South Africa did not qualify for the Afcon tournament and will return home this weekend ahead of unofficial friendly matches against Zambia and Ghana next week. — Sapa