Like many cities I have visited in Africa, Khartoum bears witness to, shall we say, some eccentric driving. The chauffeur of our media bus appears to have taken lessons from a formula one driver, and hurtled his way to and back from Bafana training yesterday (helped by a police escort), even crashing into another vehicle at one point.
The situation for the passengers was not helped by the fact that there were curtains hanging over the windows inside the bus, the whole crazy 40 minute round trip experienced in a kind of semi-blindness.
It is hoped that Bafana Bafana’s bid to qualify for the Nations Cup in Morocco early next year is far less hair-raising.
It all starts in Khartoum tonight on a pitch that looks far from perfect, an uneven surface quite apparent as the team trained yesterday.
“It’s not too bumpy, it is playable,” was Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba’s take on it, and the veteran coach certainly has enough experience of playing in Africa for this type of situation not to bother him.
His first Bafana side is a fascinating one, with a clear statement of intent in playing two up front that South Africa have come here for more than just one point. It will be fascinating to see how Keagan Dolly and Bongani Ndulula do on their Bafana debuts, and if Mashaba’s side can do what many have failed to do before and win in hostile territory.
Gordon Igesund’s Bafana did beat the Central African Republic ‘away’ last year, but that was in neutral territory in Cameroon. For the last time Bafana won a qualifier on a country’s ‘home’ pitch, you have to go back to 2009, and a dead rubber against Equatorial Guinea in Malabo.
Congratulations, too, must go to the new Bafana captain, Senzo Meyiwa. He was brilliant in Orlando Pirates’ 2012 Champions League campaign, and if he can keep up that sort of form on the continent, Bafana must have every chance of winning tonight.
Elsewhere, almost certainly the least surprising event of the day is that the PSL have announced that the MTN8 final on September 20 will be played in Durban. Quite why the PSL took so long to announce this is anyone’s guess, but the Moses Mabhida Stadium has hosted so many cup finals in recent years, that it is becoming slightly ridiculous. Not that I am complaining too much. That stadium is my clear favourite of all those built for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.