Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said he was not surprised the national team suffered a setback to their preparations for their 2014 World Cup qualifier against the Central African Republic (CAR) on Saturday.
“It is very frustrating to have to go through this, but I had warned the players that we should expect such things,” Igesund said after the team’s frustrating journey to Yaounde, in Cameroon.
The match against the CAR was moved to the neutral venue of Yaounde for security reasons owing to the political unrest in the CAR.
The national team were forced to travel to Yaounde by bus, after their connecting flight from Douala was cancelled upon arrival in Cameroon late Tuesday afternoon.
Having been made to wait overnight, the team were dealt another blow when their flight yesterday afternoon was also cancelled.
Igesund’s plans for the crucial qualifying game are back on track, however, following their safe arrival at their base in Yaounde yesterday evening.
“We have arrived safely and the players are in high spirits. The saga is behind us and we don’t want to make any accusations,” said Igesund.
“We must just look forward to our mission. At the end of the day, we can’t look back, we can’t harp on this matter … life must go on. We are here to do a job and we will do it to the best of our ability.”
According to authorities in Cameroon, the connecting flight was stuck in Yaounde and needed repairs, meaning the flight would only have been available at 10pm last night.
Igesund took the decision to opt for the bus trip to avoid further delays.
“Waiting at the airport for the next flight was not an option, as there were no guarantees it would arrive,” Igesund said.
“We didn’t want to find ourselves stranded again in the middle of the night. So we had to think on our feet and make a move.
“The fact is that it is not the ideal preparation, but we will not allow it to upset us – what is done is done. We have a responsibility to our country to play this match and we have to be strong.”
Skipper Itumeleng Khune said although the team were exhausted from their trip, the squad remained optimistic ahead of the weekend’s fixture.
“Obviously we are very disappointed, but as professionals we have to get on with it. Fortunately the coach had prepared us well mentally,” said Khune.
“We are here for one thing – that is to play the match and win it. We will accept what happened and move forward.
“We were just worried about the road, because we don’t know the area and driving such a long distance at night could be dangerous. But I am glad we have arrived safely.”
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