bafana ready to roll

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

There was general relief in the Bafana Bafana camp yesterday following news that all the players were ready for Saturday's Nelson Mandela Challenge against Norway.

The camp resembled a hospital ward on Monday, with Steven Pienaar, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Nasief Morris and

Tsepo Masilela all carrying knocks, but they are now ready for this game at the refurbished Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

Prior to the team's departure for Rustenburg last night, media officer Sifiso Cele said: "There is nothing to worry about now, but the players will be closely monitored by the doctor [Ephraim Nematswerani] and his team."

Pienaar, Tshabalala and Morris could not be reached for comment, but Masilela said they were looking forward to an exciting game.

"It will be a tough match but we are going all out for a win. We cannot disappoint by losing, considering that we are playing at home in a new jersey."

Norway, fresh from a 1-0 win over Germany in a friendly on February 11, are using the match as part of their preparations for the 2010 World Cup.

They have collected only two points from their three qualifying matches and are languishing at the bottom of the log in Europe's Group 9.

The Netherlands are top of the log with nine points, Scotland are second (four), followed by Iceland (four) and then Macedonia (three).

After Saturday's game, the Norwegians have a tough friendly against Finland on April 1, which is reported to have attracted massive interest.

Egil Olsen, Norway's most successful coach who guided them to the 1994 and 1998 World Cup finals, still insists that they are on track to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.

Norway host Macedonia on June 6 in a game they need to win to remain in the race to qualify for the finals in South Africa.

Sipho Nkumane, Bafana Bafana manager, said the Norwegians will touch down at OR Tambo International Airport at 10am tomorrow.

The Norwegians, ranked 45th by Fifa, will travel to Phokeng where they will have a media briefing at Royal Bafokeng Stadium at 6pm before a light training session.

Bafana Bafana, ranked 72nd in the world, arrived in Rustenburg last night and will start with their final preparations this morning.