Bafana: Could this be a beginning of a new era?

2014-05-23 11:40

“You guys must know by now how it feels for these players to have to play a football match within a few days of flying for so many hours.”

These were the first words out of Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund’s mouth as we waited for our baggage at the Sydney Airport after a 14-hour flight from Joburg.

One doesn’t even know whether it would be correct to call it an overnight flight: we left Joburg at 18h15 and arrived in Australia at 14h00 local time.

So while folks at home were preparing to go to work, we were getting ready to have the last meal of the day and hit the proverbial deck.

Walking with a limp, Igesund explained that he had somehow twisted his right ankle. It was swollen after the lengthy flight.

His gait could easily have been an indication of his limping team.

Staffers at the shops around the OR Tambo International Airport kept on asking whoever was within earshot about who the players were as most of the regulars, such as Itumeleng Khune, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Teko Modise, did not make the trip for a host of reasons, including injuries and fatigue.

In their absence, the likes of Thuso Phala, Thabo Nthethe, Ronwen Williams, Eric Mathoho, Anele Ngcongca, Tokelo Rantie and Reneilwe Letsholonyane will have to do the job against the Socceroos on Monday evening (09h30 SA time).

Before leaving SA, there was talk that the stadium would be packed for this match as it is the home team’s farewell game before departing for the World Cup in Brazil, taking place from June 12 to July 13.

However one’s doubts – or is it the cynical newsman within? – were soon cast as an air hostess asked us if we were going to their country to play against the Socceroos.

She said she was not aware of the match. Neither was one of the staffers at the airport who asked if the group of players was here for a match. We had to tell the staffer about the details of the game.

However, having just arrived close to sunset today, one still needs to establish and gauge public interest in the match.

But for SA, could this be a beginning of a new era, especially for the young players in the team that will face Australia on Monday and New Zealand on Friday?

Time will tell!

The full squad:

Goalkeepers:

1. Ronwen Williams, SuperSport United

2. Senzo Meyiwa, Orlando Pirates

Defenders:

3. Thabo Nthethe, Mamelodi Sundowns

4. Buhlebuyeza Mkhwanazi, University of Pretoria

5. Thato Mokeke, SuperSport United

6. Anele Ngcongca, Racing Genk (Belgium)

7. Sibusiso Khumalo, SuperSport United

8. Eric Mathoho, Kaizer Chiefs

Midfielders:

9. Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Kaizer Chiefs

10. Siyabonga Nhlapo, Bidvest Wits

11. Bongani Zungu, Mamelodi Sundowns

12. Themba Zwane, Mpumalanga Black Aces

13. Thulani Serero, Ajax Amsterdam (Holland)

14. Thuso Phala, SuperSport United

15. Hlompho Kekana, Mamelodi Sundowns

16. Ayanda Patosi, Lokeren (Belgium)

Strikers:

17. Siphelele Mthembu, Platinum Stars

18. Tokelo Rantie, AFC Bournemouth (England)

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