Malawi on the Christmas menu for 2013 Afcon hosts South Africa

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund gives the lowdown on his final preparations, as Malawi are named as their next opponent, followed by Norway and Algeria

South Africa have finally concluded their preparatory programme for the upcoming 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals with a friendly against Malawi in Durban just before Christmas, and confirmation of the venue for January’s test game against Algeria.

Bafana Bafana begins the preparations for the tournament against Malawi at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday, December 22, then play Norway in Cape Town on January 8. They finish their warm-ups against Algeria on Saturday, January 12 at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

Coach Igesund will start his first training camp on December 20 in Durban ahead of the clash with Malawi. A three-day break will follow after that match, and the squad will have a second training camp that will be held in Johannesburg from December 27-30.

After the New Year’s break, the squad will report back on January 2 with the final 23-man squad that will represent South Africa at the tournament to be named after the Norway game, according to Igesund.

“Because of the fact that we have a match against Malawi, then a three day break and then another camp, I can’t call one squad for this and one squad for the other, so that is why I will call up a squad of plus minus 30 players and keep on changing them,” he told a press briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“I would also like to give some of the players who have recently returned to action after injuries, a chance to prove themselves.

“This game against Malawi is like the other five games we have already played, winning and losing is not important. What is key is to give the players one last opportunity to convince me and my technical team that we are making the right choices. Intense preparations will start in earnest when I announce the final 23 players after the match against Norway,” Igesund added.

 “I will have the players from morning to night - and that is the period I will be using to build this team into a unit. You can’t do that when you get a team on the 20th and play on the 22nd.

“This for me is the most crucial period for us because I haven’t been preparing the team. All I have been doing is selecting them and going to play a match. We haven’t been playing any formations, any style, all I have been doing is looking at players, so this period for me is very important,” he said.