Bafana to play Madagascar after Zambia pulls out citing SA’s ‘security concerns’
Bafana Bafana is set to play Madagascar in a friendly match on Saturday at Orlando Stadium, Johannesburg. Kick off will be at 19h00.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) made the announcement on Wednesday morning via social media.
Zambia pulls out
The decision to play Madagascar comes less than a day after Zambia pulled out of their scheduled friendly against Bafana Bafana.
In a statement, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) cited the “prevailing security concerns in South Africa” as the reason.
The match had been scheduled for Saturday as well. Interestingly, it was to be played in Zambia’s capital Lusaka, not South Africa.
Many have interpreted the withdrawal as a sign of Zambia’s displeasure at the targeting of foreign-owned shops across Gauteng over the past several days.
Primary issue is criminality – Cele
However, Police Minister Bheki Cele has emphasised that while some may have anti-immigrant sentiments, the primary issue is criminality.
Speaking to SABC News on Wednesday morning, Cele pointed out that even retail stores owned by South African nationals have been looted.
I went to the streets where this thing started. There was a string of shops that were looted and burned. Among them were Shoprite, Usave, Pep – which are all South African shops.Bheki Cele
Social media reacts
Soccer fans on social media have reacted to the cancellation of the Zambia friendly and announcement of Madagascar as the replacement.
Some admonished Zambia for its decision. Twitter user @francondloves tweeted, “Zambia should not have boycotted this game because sports should unite us.”
Others welcomed the new friendly. They argued that, given their most recent form, Madagascar could pose a fascinating challenge for Bafana Bafana.