Busy period for SA national teams

The South African Football Association (SAFA) have revealed a calendar of events for the next three years that show an immediate flurry of activity for the country’s national teams.

Next month alone four of the country’s teams will attempt to advance in qualifiers for various events, including Bafana Bafana’s return fixture against Mauritius in the African Nations Championship preliminaries.

That game has been scheduled for Sunday, July 5 at the Anjalay Stadium in Belle-Vue, Mauritius, and will kick-off at 14h00 SA time.

Exactly a week later and the South African Under-20 side, Basetsana Basetsana, will begin their quest to qualify for the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup to be staged on the Pacific island of Papa New Guinea from October 28 – November 16.

Basetsana will host Botswana in the first leg of their first round tie on July 12 at the Dobsonville Stadium, with that match scheduled for a 15h00 kick-off.

The return leg of that tie will be played in Gaborone a fortnight later, with the exact date yet to be announced.

Should South Africa advance they will meet either Zambia or Tanzania in the second qualifying round, with those games to be played in late September and October.

And if they complete that hurdle they will vie for a place in the FIFA finals most likely with old foe Nigeria, who are once again on a collision course with South Africa.

Nigeria must first get past Liberia and then either DR Congo or Namibia, but given their history at this level it would seem a formality.

The senior women’s team of South Africa, Banyana Banyana, will continue their journey to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with a third round preliminary tie against Kenya.

The first of those matches will be played at the Dobsonville Stadium on July 18 at 15h00, with the return two weeks later in Nairobi.

The side will hope to draw inspiration for the first leg from the fact the game is played on the birthday of former state president Nelson Mandela.

No guesses who likely awaits in the final round of qualifying if South Africa advance, with one of Nigeria or Equatorial Guinea standing between Banyana and a return to the Olympic Games following their 2012 showing in London.
Those final two-legged qualifiers will both be played in October.

The South African men’s Under-23 side also begin their campaign for a place in Rio when they take on Zimbabwe on July 19 at the Rufaro Stadium in Harare in the first leg of their third round qualifier. The match kick-off at 15h00.

The exact date and venue for the return has not been decided but it will be the weekend of August 1-2.

If South Africa win they will book their place in the CAF Under-23 Championships to be played in Senegal from November 28-December 12, where a top-three place will book them a ticket to the Olympics.