South Africa’s Zungu welcomes Black Stars test

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Bongani Zungu

Bafana Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu provides an update on the conditions in Dubai and believes today’s clash with Ghana will be a good test before the AFCON.

Chatting exclusively to KickOff.com, Zungu has given an indication of what phase-two of the camp has been like since arriving in the UAE on Tuesday evening.

Bafana are just nine days away from the start of their Africa Cup of Nations campaign, and preparations have been taken up a notch as they test themselves in the scorching middle eastern heat, which peaks at temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius.

With temperatures in Cairo also reaching the mid-to-high thirties, it has been imperative for Stuart Baxter’s charges to acclimatise to extreme heat after coming from a week-long camp in Johannesburg, where temperatures barely reach into their twenties.

“Being in Dubai has been great, first for our team spirit and also [to adjust to] the conditions, because it’s almost similar to Egypt,” Zungu says from the team hotel in Dubai.

“We’ve been training well, and everyone is hungry and looking forward to the tournament.

“To my surprise, on the first day here, everyone looked sharp and training was good. The intensity and ball movement has been good, and we have adjusted well.”

Apart from having to get down to business, the 26-year-old, who plies his club football in France, says spending time outside of their air-conditioned hotel rooms is not appealing.

“We only went to the pool for recovery after a tough session. We just chill in the rooms and make sure we keep cool, it’s very hot outside – believe that [laughs],” he added.

Bafana will open their AFCON account against two-time champions Ivory Coast on June 24, and Zungu believes this afternoon’s encounter with the Black Stars will be a worthy test of their preparations thus far.

“Firstly, personally, that’s what I need – a competitive game, and for the team, of course, it’s important that we test ourselves.

“Everyone is looking forward to the game, and there’s no pressure. We just want to be ready for AFCON, and Ghana is a very good test for us. We are excited for the match.

“I cannot comment on the expectations, all I can say is that we are preparing for the tournament and we will try and do well so that we get ourselves pumped up for Egypt.”

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