South Africa will play three friendly games in January

By Mohammed AllieBBC Sport, Cape Town
The Estadio de Bata in Equatorial Guinea
South Africa are set to inaugurate the Estadio de Bata in Equatorial Guinea

South Africa may not have qualified for the January's Africa Cup of Nations finals but they are set to play a series of friendlies ahead of the tournament.

They will travel to Equatorial Guinea to meet the Nations Cup co-hosts on 5 January for the official opening of the Estadio de Bata, venue for the tournament's opening game on 21 January.

Bafana Bafana will play two more teams heading to the Nations Cup: Zambia on 11 January and Ghana four days later.

"The game against Equatorial Guinea has been confirmed and they will be paying all our travel costs," said Dominic Chimhavi, Safa's Media and Communications Manager.

"We will be chartering a special flight to take the team from Bata to Durban immediately after the game and coach Pitso Mosimane has also been given permission to select a bigger squad for the two games."

In between the Equatorial Guinea and Zambia games, Bafana Bafana had planned to meet 162nd-ranked India in Durban on 7 January.

However, that game was postponed to a date yet to be agreed upon by the two counties.

Safa said the postponement came 'at the request of the Indians as they had to be back in New Delhi on 8 January for another engagement'.

'Both South Africa and India would like to apologise to the two countries' soccer fans who were looking forward to this inaugural meeting between the two friendly nations,' Safa added in a statement.

Should it go ahead in future, the game against the Indians would have political significance in that it will commemorate the 151st anniversary of the arrival of the first immigrants from that country into South Africa.

Last year the event was commemorated with an historic 20-20 cricket match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium between the two countries, one that coincided with the retirement from international cricket of South African fast bowler Makhaya Ntini.

Bafana will meet Zambia at the Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville outside Pretoria and Ghana in Rustenburg four days later.

Speaking from Lusaka, Football Association of Zambia President Kalusha Bwalya confirmed his country would be meeting Bafana in a friendly in Pretoria.

"We are hoping to organise two more friendlies in South Africa - one before and one after the Bafana match. We will be camping in Johannesburg where we will be able to focus quietly on our preparations for the Nations Cup," said Bwalya.

The Nations Cup runs between 21 January and 12 February in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

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