Bafana Bafana Chronicles – Day 1 In Khartoum
Written by Mbali Mokoko
Bafana Bafana’s journey to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations has begun. The team jetted out of the country from OR Tambo on 3 September at about 7:45am, on a chartered flight for their first qualifier against Sudan in Khartoum on Friday night. The chartered flight filled with players, coach Shakes Mashaba and his technical team, South African Football Association (SAFA) officials including Head of Delegation, Ria Ledwaba, was gripped by a sense of anticipation as we took to the skies.
Our first stop on the journey to Khartoum was Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam where the plane was refuelled. The refuelling took about an hour, which only added to the feeling of anxiety on the flight, as we all just wanted to arrive at our destination. We touched down in the Sudanese capital at 3:45pm on (2:45 South African Time) and then proceeded to customs where we were immediately greeted by the extreme heat. It was 35 degrees and we are told that the mercury can touch up to 39 degrees in Khartoum during September.
Once done with customs, we made our way to the hotel. Two buses, a luxury car and an open van were our transport. The luxury car for the coach, Shakes Mashaba who gave it to head of delegation Ria Ledwaba and travelled on the bus with the journalists and the players. Bafana’s bags were loaded up on the ‘bakkie’ and we set off on our short 10 minute trip to the hotel. The bus ride made me realise just how lucky we are to have a great transport system in Rea Vaya and Metro bus in South Africa.
After settling into our hotel, we were informed that the team would not be training as initially planned. The word from the Bafana technical team was that it was too hot. Instead the players headed to the pool for a recovery session and are hydrating at every opportunity. The first training session will take place at the national stadium on 4 September. South Africa has been drawn in Group A alongside Nigeria, Sudan and Congo Brazzaville.