3 September 2014 13:50
Sudan and South Africa square off in their historical Africa Cup of Nations qualifying Group A opener knowing three points are crucial.
This opening qualifier for the 2015 AFCON will be the first senior-level match between two of the founding nations of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Khartoum.
With continental powerhouses Nigeria in the same group, neither team can afford to drop points if they hope to qualify for the tournament in Morocco.
Sudan coach Mohamed Abdallah is looking forward to the historical match after naming an experienced squad to take on Bafana Bafana.
“I wish this match would become an occasion for a historic game because of its exclusive nature as it takes place between two countries that are the founding fathers of CAF, and also the fact that it’s the opening match of the group phase,” Abdallah said.
Sudan recently lost an international friendly 3-1 to Zambia but the coach insists this has only made his charges more determined to beat South Africa.
“The boys are geared up towards that game and will die a little for the country,” Abdallah told AfricanFootball.com.
“Every team will be hungry to win at home and therefore we need to work hard and start with three points against South Africa.
“We have great respect for South Africa. They have a good and strong Premier League and they are more professional.
“They have professional players outside the continent. We have to be extremely wary with the South African side, both as individuals and as a group.”
South Africa come into the game with a new coach at the helm after Shakes Mashaba replaced Gordon Igesund in July, for his second stint as Bafana Bafana coach.
The appointment has drawn criticism from some sections of the South African media as he is seen as the “cheapest coach” option after a raft of big names were linked with the job including Carlos Quieroz, Stephen Keshi and former Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos.
“Two days after my appointment there was so many horrible things said,” Mashaba said at a press conference on Monday.
“The one which really made me feel insulted is the one where they said I was the cheapest coach. Give me the records of all the expensive coaches and put it here. I will repeat. Give me their records. Our football is down because of those expensive coaches. I felt I could not leave this.
“The cheapest coach? I am the longest serving coach, but they’re busy calling me the cheapest coach,” a visibly angry Mashaba said.
“Honestly speaking, I know nothing about Sudan but I know they are a good side and we have to be careful.”
Mashaba will have to do without the services of talismanic goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune through a foot injury, as well as Belgium-based Ayanda Patosi who missed his flight to join the team in Cape Town before they fly to Sudan.