26 March 2017 – Bafana Bafana received a warm welcome when they landed in East London on Sunday afternoon (26 March 26).
The South African Senior Men’s National Team is in the Eastern Cape city to face Angola in an international friendly match on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at Buffalo City Stadium.
Kickoff is at 19h00.
Chants of Jali (Andile) and Thopola (Diamond) could be heard from the crowd.
Jali was born in the province in Matatiele, while Thopola plays for the local Premier Soccer League side Chippa United.
Stand-in Bafana Bafana head coach Owen da Gama was elated with the welcome.
“It is always pleasing to know that there are people who will give us such a rousing welcome. This gives us the confidence to continue to do well in our second match against Angola. This is somewhat an indication that the fans will come in numbers to the stadium to see their heroes up close and personal. We really appreciate that they have sacrificed their Sunday afternoon to come and welcome us, and we will have to repay them with another good displace on Tuesday,” said Da Gama.
This will be Bafana Bafana’s clash in three days after they brushed aside Guinea-Bissau 3-1 in an internationl friendly match at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, 25 March 2017.
Goals from Kermit Erasmus and second half substitutes Percy Tau and Andile Jali ensured South Africa walked away convincing victors against the visitors.
Da Gama says, however, with the quality in the squad it was difficult to select the starting eleven.
“It was very difficul to choose a team in the first place. You want to give players a chance to play but also you want to get the right combinations, and we wanted to play the type of soccer that suits South African players. But we were happy with the combinations we saw in this match. It just shows the rich talent we have in this country. There’s obviously still a lot of hard work to do ahead. And we will make more changes in the second match, the two youngsters will play – Phakamani Mahlambi and Luther Singh – because we have to be brave enough to give them a chance, it’s the only way we can move forward. So we were very happy with the exercise against Guinea-Bissau,” added Da Gama.
“We created a lot of chances and we could have put some away but we did not. You saw what Percy Tau did, he was a marvel to watch. Another player is Kamohelo Mokotjo – one of the players in the squad said he would pay to watch him play – now for a player to say that means there is a lot of quality in this team. I was very happy with the performace and how the players applied themselves.”
Despite the good display by those who featured against Guinea-Bissau, Da Gama says he will make changes against Angola.
“The whole idea is to give all the players a run, without tempering with the structure. There has to be some sort of foundation where the team retains its structure - you can’t come up with wholesale changes,” says Da Gama.
Man of the match against Guinea-Bissau, Keagan Dolly says he was also pleased with the display of the team.
“With the game, I am glad we scored three goals but we missed some of the opportunities we created but I think with the way we played we really enjoyed ourselves. You could see how happy the crowd was they were enjoying themselves. When the squad was announced I got excited just seeing the names of youngsters like Phakamani Mahlambi, Luther Singh and Percy Tau. I am just happy to see Tau scoring such a beautiful goal and the future of South African football is very bright,” says Dolly.
The France-based forward adds that it was cery exciting to team up with some of the most exciting players in the national team.
“I was personally happy to see Kamohelo back in the team, as well as Kermit because I have always looked up to these players, they have been playing in Europe and proving themselves. And with Serero we built a relationship back at Ajax Cape Town and since then we have clicked,” added Dolly.
“It’s always encouraging for me to come back home and play with these players and grow in the process, and playing with these with these players makes us want to reach the heights they have reached. Right now we are a happy camp and a very vibrant team, we just enjoy each other’s company. I joined the camp late and I could see everyone was happy and that gave me the boost I needed.”