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Friday, 6 September 2019

Xenophobia: Madagascar boycott South Africa friendly for security reasons

Xenophobia tension in Johannesburg and Pretoria has forced Madagascar to boycott their forthcoming friendly against South Africa. At the last count, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) on Wednesday, September 4, opted out of Saturday’s friendly against South Africa in Lusaka, blaming "prevailing security concerns" in the region courtesy of Xenophobia. However, SAFA quickly fast-tracked another friendly tie with Madagascar slated for Orlando on the eastern edge of Johannesburg. 

Surprisingly, on Thursday, September 5, Bafana Bafana Twitter page revealed the game would no longer hold, with their guests refusing to make the trip.

"SAFA regrets to inform the public that the match between Bafana Bafana and Madagascar scheduled for this coming Saturday (7 September) has been called off after the visitors (Madagascar) decided to withdraw from the encounter," the read in part. Reacting on the latest development, SAFA spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi admitted that players and staff were still in the dark after the setback. "Still figuring out what to do next. "Apparently [Madagascar] were on their way to the airport when they received a call from the government telling them that they were not allowed to board the plane for South Africa," Chimhavi was quoted as saying to CNN Sport. "Naturally this is upsetting for all involved,” even as he stressed that recent happening in South Africa must have contributed to Madagascar's blackout.

"I think we both can guess why they've done this," he said. "It is pretty obvious what is happening in South Africa." Meanwhile, the Malagasy Federation of Football took to their Facebook page to reveal that decision not to play, claiming that after due consultation it was deemed "wise" not to reject the friendly invitation on security grounds.

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