Bafana coach excited about return of local football action

Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki is excited at the news that football is likely to return soon.

This comes after Minister of Sport and Recreation, Nathi Mthethwa, gave the PSL the go-ahead for clubs to start training and President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated the move last night.

Football clubs and their teams could start training provided they respect health protocols and safety measures as stipulated by the Disaster Management Act regulations.

Bafana were last in action on 17 November 2019 in the 1-0 victory over Sudan in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers – four days earlier they faced Ghana in Cape Coast in the same competition.

The next scheduled matches were the back-to-back qualifiers against Sao Tome e Principe scheduled for the end of March this year – but the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to all sporting activities around the world.

Ntseki had already announced his squad to take on Sao Tome, and had made nine changes to the group that faced Ghana and Sudan. He believes there was excitement galore leading to the camp, with the likes of Itumeleng Khune, George Maluleka, Andile Jali and Thabo Matlaba making a return after a long absence.

Safa Media spoke to Ntseki, who has been home in Bloemfontein since the start of the lockdown.

Coach you must be excited at hearing that South African football could return very soon?
Molefi Ntseki: I must admit, the last three months have not been easy, and not been the same. In simple terms ‘this is unacceptable the way the coronavirus has brought the whole sports world to a complete standstill. (he laughs…)
When the leagues around the world were stopped, it was a serious setback for all the football loving people – players, administrators, fans, sponsors, club bosses, I mean everyone. The move affected all stakeholders in a very negative way, a way never seen before.
This pandemic not only stopped sport dead in its tracks, but life almost came to a standstill – workers could not go to work, children had to be pulled from schools – a lot happened and we may take time to recover.

From a South African perspective?
Molefi Ntseki: Look, when we heard that leagues around the world are going to start, we were overjoyed even though we were a bit sceptical in some instances. But so far we have seen the Germans are continuing, and have now been joined by the Italians, the Spanish and tonight it is the turn of the English Premier League.
For the national teams, we are still a long way off, but that is the best news – that we will go back to something that we all love.
In South Africa teams have been given the go-ahead to start training, and that what we have been waiting for, for so long.

Going back to the field is a clear indication that we are slowly starting to overcome the challenge facing us, the unseen enemy.

Unfortunately, there is a strong likelihood that there won’t be any supporters to cheer on the players, but it is understandable – we can’t have everything in one go under the circumstances.
The players will have to adjust and perhaps get used to it – I guess that will be another new normal.

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