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Bafana players released after opponents withdraw over xenophobia attacks

Safa have also condemned the xenophobic attacks and the criminal looting of local and foreign-owned businesses that had been prevalent in parts of the country throughout the week.

South African players react after losing the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Group B football match against Morocco at the Al Salam Stadium in the Egyptian capital Cairo on 1 July 2019. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Football Association (Safa) have decided to release the players who had been in national camp the whole week and allow them to go back to their clubs after the withdrawal of Madagascar from a friendly match against Bafana Bafana.

The match was scheduled for Orlando Stadium on Saturday, 7 September after Zambia pulled out of a clash with Bafana on Tuesday.

Safa have also condemned the xenophobic attacks and the criminal looting of local and foreign-owned businesses that had been prevalent in parts of the country throughout the week.

In a statement released on Thursday, the governing body said that violence was not synonymous with football in South Africa.

"South African football is proud of its record of hosting safe and incident-free international matches in our stadiums. We hosted numerous Fifa and CAF competitions including the Afcon and Fifa Confederations Cup, the Fifa World Cup as well as major club events. On Tuesday, we hosted an Olympic qualifier between Banyana Banyana and Botswana at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg. This match, consistent with our history of hosting major football and other sporting events, was totally incident-free," the statement said.

Safa president Danny Jordaan said that he had spoken to CAF president Ahmad Ahmad and that he would have preferred Saturday’s match to go ahead.

"He knows when matches and tournaments are moved from other countries because of safety, they are moved to South Africa and that is the history of South African football. He understands that, and we had a positive and constructive discussion with him," Jordaan said.

On the pitch, this will undoubtedly be a massive blow to the team as Molefi Ntseki looks to step up preparations for their Afcon 2021 qualifiers against Ghana and Sudan in November.

The September international window for friendly games closes on Tuesday, 10 September, leaving the players and technical staff with just one more opportunity to fine-tune preparations before those crucial back-to-back qualifiers.

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