Bafana Bafana taking precautions to avoid threat of the global coronavirus epidemic

Bafana Bafana team manager Levy Ramajoe and the mens' senior head coach Molefi Ntseki during the team announcement on the 12 March 2020 at Radio Park.
Bafana Bafana team manager Levy Ramajoe and the mens' senior head coach Molefi Ntseki during the team announcement on the 12 March 2020 at Radio Park.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana are taking precautions to avoid any threat of the global coronavirus epidemic travelling to their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sao Tome and Principe this month‚ including the use of a direct charter flight.

National team doctor Thulani Ngwenya has also taken precautions regarding the four foreign-based players arriving in camp‚ including two from France where there have been more than 2‚200 cases of covid-19 and close to 50 deaths.

Bafana assemble on Sunday‚ March 22‚ and play the first of their back-to-back Cameroon 2021 qualifiers against Sao Tome at FNB Stadium on Friday‚ March 27.

They travel to Sao Tome on Saturday‚ March 28 by a five-hour charter flight from Johannesburg‚ to begin preparations for the second game on Tuesday‚ March 31.

Bafana meet Sao Tome on the artificial surface of the 6‚500-seat Estadio Nacional 12 de Julho.

“The issue now around the world is corona. As Safa [the SA Football Association] we are taking this issue very seriously‚” Ngwenya said.

“That is also why we have organised a charter flight. One of the reasons for that is because of corona.

“We are minimising the risk. We did not want to go and connect‚ because we could increase the risk of coronavirus.

“We are governed by the World Health Organisation and the department of health in South Africa. As far as two minutes ago I have confirmed that in Africa corona is not yet an epidemic. But we still want to take the necessary precautions.”

Ngwenya said some precautions will be taken to monitor Bafana’s four foreign-based players – Thulani Serero of Al Jazira in United Arab Emirates‚ Percy Tau of Club Brugges in Belgium and the France-based duo of Lebogang Phiri of Guingamp and Lebogang Mothiba of Strasbourg.

He said negotiations are being held for those players not to be put into self-quarantine on arrival in South Africa.

Thus far there have been 314 cases of coronavirus in Belgium and three deaths‚ and just 74 cases with no deaths in UAE.

“I’ve been in communication with their clubs’ medical staff in France and at the moment we are good‚” the doctor said of Phiri and Mothiba.

“They will fly business class‚ rather than economy. The players in France and UAE have a direct flight.

“Their club team doctors promised that from where they stay to the airport they are going to make sure that everything is fine. We are going to receive them at the airport.

“Because it’s France‚ and they [airport officials] might want to quarantine them. But we are negotiating for them to be released as quickly as possible.

“When they release them‚ we’ll still have them monitored very closely.

“We can’t completely remove the risk. But we need the players.”

Bafana are currently second in Group C from a 2-0 away defeat against Ghana and 1-0 home win against Sudan.