In the first match, South Africa will take on Swaziland on Wednesday, 25 March at the Somhlolo Stadium in the capital Mbabane. Kick-off is at 19h00.
Four days later (Sunday, 29 March) Bafana Bafana will host the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. Kick-off is at 15h00.
These will be the first matches Mashaba’s men will play since the 2015 CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament played in Equatorial Guinea – and Mashaba has kept the bulk of the players who did duty in that event.
“These are very important matches, even the way they are structured because if you remember well when we played the 2015 AFCON qualifiers they were set like this. And soon we will be going back to the qualifiers again so this is a good exercise for us as it prepares us well,” said Mashaba.
“Secondly we have always said that competition is about participation, so we need to participate in order to go and compete. Thirdly it gives us an opportunity to widen our base for selection because we will use some players for the Swaziland match while some for the Nigeria match, so I think the more games we play the better.”
Mashaba likes the idea of playing two different teams with differing styles of play.
“Our main task is to build a new team, a team that will bring results. I know many will say we are playing Swaziland they are weak, but we have to be careful because many countries are regrouping. As we are going to Swaziland we should not forget that any team that plays South Africa wants to win,” added the Bafana Bafana mentor.
“As for Nigeria we know they are tough, arrogant and you can never be arrogant when you are not confident. So we have to go and compete, not just tactically, but also mentally and physically. Let’s also not forget they might come here spitting fire because we denied them a chance to go to AFCON, so it is going to be a very tough encounter.”
Meanwhile Mashaba has invited five promising players from the Castle Lager Football Academy initiative to be part of camp so they can train and learn from their more established colleagues. The five players are - Sifiso Nkosi, Bafana Dlamini and Tshepo Mokhabi.
The three players recently graduated from the current 2014/15 Castle Academy training camp led by Neil Tovey and Phil Masinga, in which the 23 man squad won a number of friendly games against NFD and PSL teams.
Deolin Mekoa, who currently plays for Maritzburg United and Rafiq de Goede from NFD side, Vasco da Gama, graduated from the 2013/14 and 2012/13 programmes respectively.
“This is in line with our development plans. We are talking about preparing for the future where we would like to see the younger players taking part in the AFCON tournaments and in the World Cup. The presence of these five players will lead us to that direction, more so because they should be the cream of the crop.
“We will be very happy to work with them, and who knows we might find gems there and rope them into the team or they could return in a different role, as Bafana Bafana players in the near future. And we would also like to take this opportunity to thank Castle Lager for their involvement in this project, this is something to be proud of,” said Mashaba.
Bafana Bafana assemble for camp on Sunday night (22 March) in Johannesburg before driving down to Swaziland the next morning (Monday, 23 March).
On Thursday, 26 March they will drive down to the neighbouring Mbombela to continue preparations for the Nigeria clash.
The team returns to Johannesburg on Monday, 30 March.
(see the selected Bafana Bafana squad below)
BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD LIST VS SWAZILAND AND NIGERIA
22 – 30 MARCH 2015