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Football | Bafana Bafana

Itumeleng Khune © Backpagepix

Bafana want Nigeria win for Madiba



Bafana Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune has called on his troops to win the Nelson Mandela Challenge against Nigeria on Wednesday at the Moses Mabhida Stadium to honour former President Mandela.

Bafana will play the reigning African champions in what should be an interesting clash at their favourite spot in Durban. Khune said it would not be acceptable to lose the Mandela Challenge for the second year running. Last year they succumbed to 2012 African champions Zambia at the FNB Stadium.

Khune said the players have a “huge responsibility to bring joy on Madiba’s face”. The former State President has been in hospital for the past two months and his health has been described as “critical but stable”.

The locals arrived in Durban on Monday morning and headed for some social responsibility commitments before addressing the media on their preparations. Only two players are yet to arrive in camp. Defender Anele Ngcongca and striker Tokelo Rantie are scheduled to arrive on Tuesday afternoon, while defender Bevan Fransman has been excused from camp as his wife has gone into labour.

Meanwhile, coach Gordon Igesund stressed the importance of the game, saying it was a “huge game” as Bafana always want to win against the Super Eagles. He said the match would also serve as preparation for their 2014 World Cup qualifier against Botswana next month.

With regards to withdrawals, Igesund said he factored that into his initial 28-man squad. He said there would always be players pulling out through injuries. Bafana had a light training session at People's Park on Monday afternoon and their opponents Nigeria were scheduled to train at King Zwelithini Stadium later that night.

"The team is never going to pick itself. The players have to go out there and perform week in and week out. That’s the precedent that we have set for the last year that I have been in charge. The players know that they have to go out there and perform. There’s no automatic choices and the players know that, they appreciated that and they are competitive," said Igesund.

The Bafana coach said each time he selected a squad he selected the best available players to ensure positive results.

"I have a very good squad here and I think a couple of players put their hands up in the Cosafa Cup tournament. They did very well there but that does not mean the ones who were not there are not going to play," he added.

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