Safa ‘welcomes decision’ to postpone Bafana’s Afcon qualifiers

Bafana Bafana team manager Levy Ramajoe and coach Molefi Ntseki during the squad announcement at SABC Radio Park in Auckland Park on Thursday, March 12.
Bafana Bafana team manager Levy Ramajoe and coach Molefi Ntseki during the squad announcement at SABC Radio Park in Auckland Park on Thursday, March 12.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

The South African Football Association (Safa) have welcomed the Confederation of African Football’s (Caf) decision to postpone this month’s round of 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches, including Bafana Bafana’s games against Sao Tome.

Safa, however, said they did not believe there was reason to suspend football in South Africa at this stage as the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease has not become an epidemic in the country yet.

South Africa’s games against Sao Tome and Principe were to take place at FNB Stadium on Friday, March 27 and then the the Estadio Nacional de 12 Julho in Sao Tome on Tuesday, March 31.

Caf on Friday night called off the round of qualifiers saying, while the numbers of coronavirus cases in Africa are still few, the number of players joining national teams from clubs in Europe and Asia, and travel restrictions in some countries, necessitated their decision.

“We welcome Caf’s decision to postpone all our matches during the 25 to 31 March 2020 period. This means that our senior men national team, Bafana Bafana, will not be playing Sao Tome e Principe in two weeks,” Safa said in a statement.

“However, the Bantwana (Under-17 girls) match will continue as scheduled on [Saturday] 14 March at [Bidvest Stadium], Johannesburg.

“It is our considered view that there is no need to panic at this stage. The virus is not an epidemic yet.

“We are positive that the situation will improve rather than worsen. We believe that there is no need to either suspend or postpone the football program in the country at this stage.

“This position could change, pending the developments in the spread of the virus. We are reviewing the situation on a continuous basis.”

Safa said their decisions will be informed by guidance from the government.

“We have full confidence in our Health Authorities. We have seen critical patients getting better after coming into contact with the virus,” the statement read.

“As the football family of South Africa, we are taking our cue from our Government, represented by the Department of Health and our football mother bodies, Fifa and Caf. We will be guided by these authorities in all the decisions that we will be taking.

“ … We have already taken measures to minimise travelling of our teams to severely affected areas. Last month, we withdrew our Olympic [U-23] team from participating in a friendly in Japan.

“We have already developed precautionary measures for all our members, teams and clubs to use as a guideline to minimise contact with the virus. These measures have been posted on our website.

“We have also sent a circular to all our members advising them about the precautionary measure.”

Bafana are currently second in Group C from an away defeat against Ghana and home win against Sudan.

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