The final preparatory match between South Africa and Angola scheduled for Cairo on Wednesday afternoon is back on track after initial reports indicated that it could be called off due to a strike by Palancas Negras players.
Reliable sources indicated that the Palancas Negras had downed tools in Portugal demanding to be paid outstanding allowances before embarking on the trip to Egypt to take part in the Africa Cup of Nations where they are paired with Tunisia, Mauritania and Mali in Group E.
But late on Tuesday, www.kingfut.com reported senior player Geraldo da Costa issuing a war cry on behalf of his compatriots and promising that Angola would be out to regain their reputation at the biennial African showpiece.
Signed by crack Egyptian side Al Ahly last winter where to date he has scored three goals with six assist, Geraldo implored Egyptian followers of the “Red Devils” to support the southern African country at the Suez Stadium, seeming to rubbish claims that they had embarked on a strike until they are paid their allowances.
“We spent the training camp in Portugal carrying out a training and physical regime that the coach had arranged for us,” said Geraldo, “but I felt happy after travelling to Egypt to participate in the tournament,” added Geraldo.
“We are trying to deliver a good performance in the tournament and accomplish an achievement that has not been achieved before by previous Angolan national teams, despite the difficulty of our group.
“I hope Al Ahly fans will support Angola in the tournament. We will do everything we can to qualify from the first round,” Gerlado added.
Angola are in Group E with Tunisia, Mauritania, and Mali.
South Africa on the other hand come from a credible goalless draw against Ghana in Dubai where coach Stuart Baxter fielded two different squads for the match, even though the team that started the game appear to be the eleven that could line-up against Cote d’Ivoire in their opening Group D match on Monday.
Percy Tau and Lebo Mothiba appears likely to lead the attack with Baxter seeming to favour a midfield comprising Dean Furman and Kamohelo Mokotjo in the holding roles while Thulani Serero and Themba Zwane could be deployed as the creatives sparks of the team supporting the front two whenever the team is in possession.
But anything could still happen before the opening game and Baxter has already hinted that several players have raised their hands to be seriously considered and he might still tweak the team that would start against the “Elephants” of Abidjan and perhaps Bongani Zungu could find himself starting against the Ivorians.