Central African Republic v South Africa | Saturday 08 June | Yaounde, Cameroon | 16:00
It’s serious stuff for Bafana Bafana this weekend as they lock horns with Central African Republic (CAR) looking to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Gordon Igesund’s men will take some confidence into this match after their win in Maseru against Lesotho last weekend. The match will be played at the neutral venue of the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde. SAFA made a request to FIFA and CAF to move the match to a neutral venue because of political unrest in the country. Thirteen South African soldiers were killed in CAR's capital, Bangui, in clashes with rebels three months ago. A fourteenth soldier died a month later.
Commenting on the new venue, South Africa's coach Gordon Igesund said: "I am happy that the venue issue has finally been settled. I must commend SAFA, FIFA and CAF for making this happen because we lost our loved ones there not so long ago and the environment is still too tense to have a match in that country. It would definitely not have been the right atmosphere to play there." Igesund warned, however, that the new venue would not necessarily be an advantage to Bafana. "It would be silly of me to say that now that we are playing at a neutral venue, it will favour us. It will still be a very tough match, but the advantage is it will be away from the intimidation of the home crowd.”
To Win (90mins)
Central African Republic 2/1
South Africa 14/10
Bafana sit second in their CAF World Cup qualifying group on five points, two points behind Ethiopia after three matches. CAR sit on just three points while Botswana occupy bottom of the table with one. Only the winner of the group will qualify for the last round of the qualifying stages, which is a two-legged home and away knockout match against one of the other ten group winners. The winners of those five matches will represent Africa in the 2014 World Cup.
A Tlou Segolela brace lifted Bafana Bafana to a 2-0 victory over Lesotho in a friendly at the National Stadium, in Maseru, Lesotho last Sunday. Bafana had the better chances throughout, and the home side battled to threaten the South African defence. Some key players were rested but performances from the likes of Segolela and Oupa Manyisa will certainly provide Igesund with a selection dilemma here. Bafana are no doubt favourites after beating CAR 2-0 just over two months ago in Cape Town. There too, a goal in each half lifted Bafana Bafana to a vital win, with a scorcher from Thabo Matlaba and a one-on-one finish from Bernard Parker. Referencing Bafana Bafana's victory, Igesund said: "We played well against them in the home leg, but they showed they are a formidable side, so we need to be on guard and not take things lightly.”
Central African Republic
After winning their opening match 2-0 at home against Botswana, CAR had two tough assignments with travels to Ethiopia and South Africa, which they lost 2-0 on both occasions. They will be looking for maximum points in each of their three remaining games which would give them a chance at clinching top spot. The Wild Beasts lie just two places below South Africa in the FIFA world rankings and will fancy their chances on a neutral venue. Playmaker Foxi Kethevoama, who plays in Kazakhstan, has been CAR’s star player in the qualifiers and notably scored a brace in their victory over Botswana.
VERDICT: South Africa 14/10
Central African Republic struggle away from home and have yet to score a goal in their two away matches. Although this isn’t necessarily an away match, Bafana should dominate and do enough to get the all important three points.