Zambia, the current African champions, are by far the more settled squad, but they face some injury worries to key players in the build-up to the game
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund is still looking at players who could yet break into his 2013 Africa Cup of Nations squad, with this possibly his last experimentation with South Africa, considering they are next set to play on December 23.
Igesund has been playing down the importance of the result, but privately knows that a victory is needed to lift the mood around the national side and help to build hype towards the continental showpiece.
A strong run for the national side between now and the tournament, starting on January 19, will not only give them momentum going into the event, but also help to build public confidence in him and his team.
"They [Zambia] are a really good team. They are well organised and they have some useful players in the side,” Igesund says. "Win or lose, this game will give me a good indication where we are and how we are progressing.”
Igesund has bemoaned the lack of time he has had to work with the players, with some of the overseas contingent only starting to train with the side on Tuesday.
"The players have had a tough weekend – some have played three games in a week – so I couldn't do anything with them this morning [Monday]. On Tuesday I've got maybe an hour-and-a-half to prepare them for the match, but we'll be fine.
"This is the type of game that we need. I think we are much better than what we were a month ago, so I think it's a good game for us to have.”
Igesund’s injury misfortune has struck again, with Orlando Pirates stars Siyabonga Sangweni and Oupa Manyisa having pulled out of the squad. He has called up just Kaizer Chiefs defender Siboniso Gaxa as a replacement.
Zambia have some injury worries of their own, the most serious being a late fitness test for Rainford Kalaba.
|DID YOU KNOW|
- Bafana Bafana and Zambia met in the first ever Nelson Mandela Challenge, though the fixture had yet to be called that. It was played on the day that Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president of South Africa on May 10, 1994. South Africa won 2-1.
South Africa have played Zambia 14 times in the past, more than any other country. Zimbabwe (12) is next on the list.
- The teams have four wins apiece and six draws in those 14 previous matches. Zambia lead on goals though, with 15 to South Africa’s 14.
The last meeting between the two countries was in January 2009 when a Teko Modise goal was enough to separate the sides.
- Ten of the Zambian players in the squad for this match, now play in South Africa, or have played in the PSL in the past. It will mean the conditions are familiar to them.