SAfrica changes game venue to honor slain captain
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa has been allowed to move its next African Cup of Nations qualifier to the hometown of slain national team captain Senzo Meyiwa as a tribute.
South African Football Association President Danny Jordaan made the announcement on Thursday and also promised a statue of Meyiwa would be built to stand outside SAFA’s headquarters at the country’s main soccer stadium in Johannesburg.
The goalkeeper was shot and killed in an apparent house robbery on Sunday, unleashing dismay and anger in South Africa over the violent death of one of its most popular players.
Meyiwa had captained South Africa to the top of its group and was yet to concede a goal in qualifying, putting Bafana Bafana on the brink of sealing a place at next year’s continental championship.
To honor Meyiwa, SAFA was given special permission by the Confederation of African Football to move next month’s qualifier against Sudan from Nelspruit in the north to Meyiwa’s hometown of Durban on the east coast, Jordaan said. South Africa will qualify for the Cup of Nations if it wins.
The Nov. 15 game will now be played at Moses Mabhida Stadium, where Meyiwa’s funeral will be held on Saturday.
Meyiwa was fatally shot while visiting his girlfriend in Vosloorus township near Johannesburg. Police are hunting three suspects in the shooting and have offered a reward of nearly $23,000 to catch them.
On Thursday, Jordaan challenged South Africans — who are used to high levels of violent crime — to hand in illegal guns, which he said will be put in a furnace and melted down to build Meyiwa’s statue. Jordaan said the more illegal guns given up, the bigger Meyiwa’s statue would be.
“That statue will stand in front of SAFA House and when you walk into SAFA House, you must walk past Senzo,” Jordaan said.
Jordaan was speaking at a memorial service at a Johannesburg sports arena for Meyiwa and two other South African sports figures who died in the past few days. Former world champion 800-meter runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in a car crash on Friday and female boxer Phindile Mwelase died on Saturday.