Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
SOUTH Africa have beefed up security in and around Soweto ahead of the Young Warriors’ Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Orlando Stadium this evening.
The match kicks off at 7pm.
There have been concerns over the safety of the team, and Zimbabweans living in South Africa who usually attend such games en-masse, in the wake of deadly xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the country.
One of the Young Warriors’ biggest prospects, Jonah Fabisch, son of the late former national team coach Reinard, had to pull out of the squad over safety concerns.
The match had to be shifted from Bidvest Stadium in central Johannesburg, the nucleus of these barbaric acts, to Orlando in Soweto.
But, it has since emerged that the team will be escorted to, and from, the venue by armed security details.
There will also be improved security at the stadium as well as all over Soweto for the safety of the players and their supporters.
Speaking from Johannesburg yesterday, Young Warriors manager Charles Mukaronda, said SAFA, in liaison with their government, had guaranteed them maximum security before, during and after the game.
“We arrived in South Africa safely and we feel very secure where we are staying,’’ he said.
“SAFA says we will be escorted to and from the stadium and they have promised that our security is guaranteed.
“They also said there will be security reinforcements in and around the stadium for the supporters to move freely to and from the venue.’’
The Young Warriors will not break camp after their expected flight back home tomorrow as they would be preparing for the return leg at Barbourfields on Tuesday next week.
The winners will qualify for the eight-team Under-23 AFCON in Egypt in November where three best finishers will book their place at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Coach Tonderai Ndiraya has once again given the armband to Highlanders striker Prince Dube.
He has urged his charges not to put themselves under pressure.
“We have no pressure and I have been telling the youngsters there is need to relax, going into this first leg tie.
“What we simply have to do is making sure that we don’t concede away from home.
“We need to try and score one goal and then finish them off at home,” said Ndiraya.
Meanwhile, Madagscar have pulled out of the international friendly against Bafana Bafana scheduled for the Orlando Stadium tomorrow.
Madagascar had been roped in to replace Zambia who withdrew from their match against the South Africans because of the xenophobic attacks.