Pretoria: Bafana Bafana want to win the Nelson Mandela Challenge clash against the Super Eagles of Nigeria on Wednesday evening to send a strong message to the continent that they are progressing.
Kick-off of the much anticipated thriller match is 8:15pm at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
“This game is important to us and it will be nice to go out there and beat Nigeria, and I believe we are capable of doing that. We need to send out a strong message to the rest of the continent that we are progressing.
“Nigeria is without doubt a quality team, but we also have lot of quality and it will not be an easy game for both teams. In my view, only one goal will separate the two teams,” said Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund.
His sentiments were echoed by Bafana skipper Itumeleng Khune.
“This is going to be a nice challenge for us. Winning this match will put us in a better position on the FIFA rankings. We have to perform to the best of our ability because we are meeting a really formidable side.
“I would also like to appeal to the fans to come in their numbers to support us as they have been doing all along. We believe with our fans behind us, we can go all the way,” he said.
Although it is friendly match to honour former President Nelson Mandela, the pride of both countries will play a part in the game as both national teams will want to win for national honour.
With the Nigerians being the current Africans champions, it is not going to be easy for Igesund and his team, who will also have to avoid embarrassing local fans by losing the match.
Igesund had a fruitful first training session on Monday at People’s Park in Durban, in which all but three of the 24-man squad took part in training.
Defender Bevan Fransman has been released from Wednesday’s match due to personal matters, but he will join the squad on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s match against Africa Cup of Nations runners up Burkina Faso at FNB stadium.
The Belgium-based duo of Anele Ngcongca and Tokelo Rantie are expected to join the camp today, while England-based midfielder Dean Furman met up with his teammates in Johannesburg on Monday.
Left back Marc van Heerden, who replaced the injured Innocent Mdledle, has also arrived at camp.
Both Bafana Bafana and Nigeria arrived in Durban on Monday and were welcomed by a group of dancers and school children wanting to catch a glimpse of their football heroes.
Meanwhile, tickets for the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge are already on sale.
The tickets are selling for R50 and R100 and can be bought at Computicket, Shoprite, Checkers and Shoprite/Checkers outlets around the country.