South Africa to face Egypt in Nelson Mandela Challenge
Bafana Bafana will play The Pharaohs of Egypt in the 22nd Edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday, 6 September 2016.
The clash comes just three days after South Africa rounds off their 2017 Gabon African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Mauritania.
This will be the third time Egypt and South Africa meet in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge.
The two nations locked horns for the first time in the 5th Edition played at FNB Stadium on 16 December, 1998 - the hosts won 2-1.
The two African giants met again on 15 November 2006, this time on neutral ground in Brentfort, London in England.
The North Africans emerged 1-0 winners in the 12th Edition.
The annual event is one of the ways used to continue the legacy of the late State President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, also known as The Father of the Nation, with proceeds going to aid needy children.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) has once again stuck to its promise of bringing only the top sides for this prestigious tournament. Egypt is ranked 43rd in the world and 5th on the continent, behind Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal.
In 2015 Bafana Bafana retained the trophy when they defeated Senegal at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto in September with debutant Mpho Makola’s goal.
South Africa has won the Nelson Mandela Challenge nine times and has in the past hosted the likes of Argentina, Brazil, The Netherlands, USA, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Zambia among others.
The 2016 Edition comes at a time when Bafana Bafana prepare for the 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup qualifiers where Shakes Mashaba’s men will face Burkina Faso in the first match.
“The clash against Egypt could not have come at such an important time on our football calendar. We will use this match and the one before it against Mauritania to fine tune the team for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso. Egypt have always been tough customers and they will help us to prepare well, because I said after the WC draw that if we don’t prepare well we will not go to Russia, so this match has come at an opportune time for us,” said Bafana Bafana head coach Shakes Mashaba.
SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan said it was important that Bafana Bafana acquire all the help they can get ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
“For us it was a no-brainer when we were presented with the prospect of playing against Egypt, we did not hesitate for two main reasons.
“Firstly, this is one of the top five nations on the continent and in the top 50 in the world, so for our team to grow they need to face such opposition and it will be part of preparations for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers for Russia. We have said before that this team needs to qualify for major tournaments to be counted amongst the best – which is in cornerstone of Vision 2022,” said Dr Jordaan.
“Secondly, this match is played in honour of a great statesman and to raise funds for a good cause, so it was important that we bring an equally big opposition to help us in this venture.”