Bafana Bafana taking no chances over virus threat

SOME SURPRISES: Bafana Bafana team manager Levy Ramajoe, left, and mens’ senior head coach Molefi Ntseki during the team announcement on Thursday at the SABC headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg
SOME SURPRISES: Bafana Bafana team manager Levy Ramajoe, left, and mens’ senior head coach Molefi Ntseki during the team announcement on Thursday at the SABC headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg

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

National team doctor Thulani Ngwenya also plans to takeprecautions 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 on 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, we are minimising the risk.

“We are governed by the World Health Organisation and the department of health in SA.

“As far as two minutes ago, I have confirmed that in Africa the coronavirus is not yet an epidemic, but we still want to take the necessary precautions.”

Ngwenya said some precautions would be taken to monitor Bafana’s four foreign-based players — Thulani Serero of Al Jazira in Saudi Arabia‚ 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 were being held for those players not to be put into self-quarantine on arrival in SA.

Thus far, there have been 314 cases of coronavirus in Belgium and three deaths‚ and just 21 cases with no deaths in Saudi Arabia.

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

“They will fly business class‚ rather than economy.

“The players in France and Saudi Arabia 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 now second in Group C from a 2-0 away defeat against Ghana and 1-0 home win against Sudan.

Meanwhile, Itumeleng Khune has been recalled to the 25-man Bafana Bafana squad.

Khune’s name came as something of a surprise in the squad announced by Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki at the SABC headquarters in Auckland Park on Thursday morning‚ given that the injury-plagued national team stalwart goalkeeper has played just four matches for Kaizer Chiefs this season.

Mamelodi Sundowns’ in-form midfielder Andile Jali was a welcome recall to the national team after an almost two-year absence.

Other notable call-ups are Black Leopards midfielder Thabo Matlaba and Maritzburg United forward Thabiso Kutumela. — TimesLIVE


Bafana squad

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)‚ Brandon Petersen (Bidvest Wits)

Defenders: Erick Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Buhle Mkhwanazi (Bidvest Wits)‚ Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits)‚ Gladwin Shitolo (Lamontville Golden Arrows)‚ Sifiso Hlanti (Bidvest Wits)‚ Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates)‚ Mosa Lebusa (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Reeve Frosler (Kaizer Chiefs).

Midfielders: Thabo Matlaba (Black Leopards)‚ Dean Furman (SuperSport United)‚ Lebogang Phiri (Guingamp‚ France)‚ Andile Jali (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates)‚ Percy Tau (Club Brugges‚ Belgium)‚ Thulani Serero (Al-Jazira‚ United Arab Emirates)‚ George Maluleka (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Lebogang Manyama (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport United).

Forwards: Lebogang Mothiba (Strasbourg‚ France)‚ Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United)‚ Thabiso Kutumela (Maritzburg United).