Bafana to face Zambia in Mandela Challenge

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pretoria - Bafana Bafana will face reigning African champions Zambia in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge at Soccer City stadium, Johannesburg, on 14 November.

Kick-off is at 8pm.

Zambia was the first country to take part in the annual tournament in 1994, where they lost 2-1 to Bafana in a thrilling encounter played at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Chipolopolo are ranked 41st on the FIFA World rankings and sixth on the continent, while Bafana are ranked 76th and 19th respectively.

The Mandela Challenge has been played on an annual basis except in 2001 when it had to be cancelled after Mexico withdrew at the last minute.

Bafana have won the tournament seven times and also lost it on seven occasions. Three matches ended in a stalemate, the last being against Cote d'Ivoire at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth last year.

The tournament returns to Johannesburg for the first time since 2007, when South Africa took on the United States of America.

Over the last four years, it was played in Rustenburg (2008); Phokeng, near Rustenburg (2009); Cape Town (2010) and Port Elizabeth (2011).

South African Football Association (Safa) chief executive officer, Dr Robin Petersen, said: "We are honoured to be playing a high-profile opposition like Zambia, as this is in line with our vision of playing tough opponents as part of our preparations for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

"It is also a special occasion in that Zambia was the first nation to play in this event back in 1994, and are currently the title holders of Afcon, so we are confident that it will be quite a celebration with our neighbours when we meet."

Petersen said they were also privileged to have the opportunity to help the needy as part of the proceeds from the match will go towards the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF). Safa will donate R1 million to the NMCF.

Acting CEO of Nelson Mandela Children's Fund Moipone Buda-Ramatlo said they viewed the Mandela Challenge as more than just an annual sporting event of 90 minutes' cheer from the followers of the beautiful game.

"It is also a statement of belief that the problems facing children are of much concern to the broader football community. All the problems that are facing children off the field certainly become lighter to tackle in the knowledge that there are stars we can count on the field to spread the message of building a brighter future for our children.

"The added honour for this 18th edition of the Nelson Mandel Challenge is that we have reigning champions of the Africa Cup of Nations to demonstrate that this tournament has a message to bring and share.

"The Mandela Challenge not only connects our country's national team to a competitive platform of formidable opponents, but also assures that the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund is not alone in carrying out the task for which it was established by its founder and former President Nelson Mandela."

The Gauteng Provincial Government is equally delighted to see the encounter between the two soccer nations hosted in the province.

MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation Lebogang Maile said: "We are ready to receive and host Africa during the forthcoming soccer spectacle, Afcon. What better way to prepare ourselves by hosting the Mandela Challenge in the Home of Champions! We are greatly pleased to roll out the carpet in honor of our great statesman, Mandela."

Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund will announce the team to play Zambia on Monday, 5 November.-SAnews.gov.za

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