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Ngwenya reveals plans to minimise coronavirus risk on Bafana Bafana players

12:09 GMT+3 13/03/2020
Bafana Bafana team doctor Thulani Ngwenya
The illness is a major talking point having already claimed thousands of lives around world and Safa isn't taking chances in dealing with it

The South African Football Association (Safa) has the necessary measures in place to minimise the risk of Bafana Bafana players contracting the coronavirus when travelling to Sao Tome and Principe for their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers later this month. 

This is according to Bafana Bafana team doctor Thulani Ngwenya, who said there are arrangements even for overseas-based players for when they arrive in South Africa to prepare for the back-to-back matches. 

Ngwenya said Safa has organised a charter flight to Sao Tome and Principe because connecting flights would increase the risk.  

"The issue now around the world is the coronavirus. As Safa, we are taking this issue very seriously. That is also why we have organised a charter flight. One of the reasons for that is because of the coronavirus," Ngwenya told the South African media. 

"We are minimising the risk. We did not want to go and connect because we could increase the risk of coronavirus.

"We are governed by the World Health Organisation and the department of health in South Africa. As far as two minutes ago, I have confirmed that in Africa, the coronavirus is not yet an epidemic but we still want to take the necessary precautions."

Ngwenya further revealed he has had a chat with the medical teams of overseas-based players such as Lebogang Phiri, Thulani Serero, Percy Tau and Lebo Mothiba, saying the players will be closely monitored and be fetched from the airport upon their arrival in South Africa.

He is aware the airport officials might want to quarantine the quartet but said negotiations are underway for the players to be released as quickly as possible.     

"I've been in communication with their clubs’ medical staff in France and at the moment we are good," confirmed Ngwenya. 

"They will fly business class‚ rather than economic. The players in France and UAE have a direct flight.

"Their club team doctors promised that from where they stay to the airport, they are going to make sure that everything is fine.

"We are going to receive them at the airport because it’s France and they [airport officials] might want to quarantine them but we are negotiating for them to be released as quickly as possible.

"When they release them then we will still have them monitored very closely. We can’t completely remove the risk but we need the players."