do or die
Bafana Bafana will take on high-flying Nigeria in a must-win 2010 World Cup-Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Eastern Province Rugby Stadium in Port Elizabeth on September 6, team manager Sipho Nkumane announced yesterday.
The decision to go to the Eastern Cape for this eagerly awaited game was taken by the South African Football Association at a routine management committee meeting at Safa House in Nasrec last Thursday.
"I went to Port Elizabeth two weeks ago with Pitso Mosimane joint Bafana Bafana assistant coach on an inspection tour. We were unhappy with the condition of the pitch but representatives of Nelson Mandela Bay assured us that it will be ready.
"They gave us an undertaking that they will fix the pitch and we are happy with that.
"As part of our deal, it was agreed that there won't be any soccer games played there until September 6.
"We have already informed the Football Association of Nigeria that the game will be played in the Eastern Cape," said Nkumane after Bafana Bafana made a short visit to Houghton to wish Nelson Mandela a happy belated 90th birthday yesterday.
Bafana Bafana presented Madiba with a framed autographed replica jersey.
Bafana Bafana players who met Madiba included Teko Modise, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Lerato Chabangu, Bafo Biyela, Katlego Mashego, Itumeleng Khune, Excellent Walaza, Surprise Moriri, Ricardo Katza, Innocent Mdledle and Kagisho Dikgacoi.
Bafana Bafana have to win their remaining two qualifiers against the Super Eagles and away to Equatorial Guinea in Malabo on October 10 or 11 in order to have any chance of going to the Afcon finals in Angola in 2010.
This was after they collected only four points in their four opening qualifying campaign, which started on a disastrous note with a 2-0 defeat by Nigeria at Abuja Stadium in June.
They briefly raised the hopes of South Africans with an emphatic 4-1 win over Equatorial Guinea at Super Stadium in Atteridgeville the following weekend. But minnows Sierra Leone pipped them 1-0 away and went on to steal a point with a goalless draw in the return match in Atteridgeville.
"It's too early to throw in the towel, we are going to fight to the bitter end to do well in the remaining two games," said Nkumane, who is expected to arrive in Malabo this morning to inspect facilities ahead of Bafana Bafana's match against Equatorial Guinea.
Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana and joint assistant coach Jairo Leal are expected back in South Africa on Friday morning after a month-long holiday in Brazil.
They will start preparing for the August 19 friendly against Australia in London .
Nkumane said the team to play the Socceroos will be named at Safa House next Wednesday.