Khune back in Bafana for friendlies

2015-03-18 00:00

ITUMELENG Khune is back in the Bafana Bafana mix after he was yesterday named in coach Shakes Mashaba’s 30-man squad for upcoming international friendlies against Swaziland and Nigeria.

The Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper missed all six of Bafana’s Afcon 2015 qualifiers last year as well as the tournament itself with a severe ankle injury, but he has been back at it in recent weeks appearing regularly for his club. That was enough for Mashaba, who also included Chiefs’ Brilliant Khuzwayo in his squad while overlooking Belgium-based Darren Keet, who was a member of Bafana’s Afcon campaign.

There is also a recall for Konyaspor FC (Turkey) midfielder May Mahlangu after he had been banned by Safa in November for withdrawing from the squad who were due to take on Sudan in an Afcon qualifier. But Mashaba has given him an international lifeline, despite the playmaker having picked up an ankle injury on club duty this month.

It was reported that Mahlangu faced around a month out with that injury, so how he will be fit for Bafana’s date with Swaziland in Mbabane on March 25 remains to be seen. Bafana then return to South Africa for their clash against Nigeria, which will take place on March 29 in Nelspruit.

“These are very important matches, even the way they are structured because if you remember when we played the Afcon 2015 qualifiers, they were set like this,” Mashaba said yesterday, making reference to playing two games in quick succession.

“And soon we will be going back to the qualifiers again so this is a good exercise for us as it prepares us well.”

Mashaba has kept faith in a large number of the players who tried so desperately to make a success out their Afcon campaign, but he has also included a few new faces. Free State Stars defender Daniel Cardoso cracks the nod, as does Bloemfontein Celtic defender Thapelo Morena.

In midfield, Polokwane City’s Cole Alexander comes in along with Wits’ Jabulani Shongwe. There is also a welcome return to the setup for the highly rated Kamohelo Mokotjo, who is one of the country’s most high profile players currently with FC Twente in the Netherlands.

“Our main task is to build a new team; a team who will bring results,” added Mashaba. “I know many will say we are playing Swaziland and that they are weak, but we have to be careful because many countries are regrouping … any team who play against South Africa want to win.”

Bafana Bafana squad

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Brilliant Khuzwayo (Kaizer Chiefs), Jackson Mabokgwane (Mpumalanga Black Aces)

Defenders: Daniel Cardoso (Free State Stars), Anele Ngcongca (KRC Genk), Thulani Hlatshwayo (BidVest Wits), Erick Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates), Siyabonga Nhlapho (Bidvest Wits), Thapelo Morena (Bloemfontein Celtic), Sibusiso Khumalo (SuperSport United)

Midfielders: Lebogang Phiri (Brondby FC), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Andile Jali (KV Oostende), Dean Furman (Doncaster Rovers), Mandla Masango (Kaizer Chiefs), Cole Alexander (Polokwane City), Thuso Phala (SuperSport United), Jabulani Shongwe (Bidvest Wits), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren FC), Bongani Zungu (Mamelodi Sundowns), Kamohelo Mokotjo (FC Twente), May Mahlangu (Konyaspor FC)

Forwards: Tokelo Rantie (AFC Bournemouth), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits), Thabo Mnayane (University of Pretoria), Lehlohonolo Majoro (Orlando Pirates), Siphelele Ntshangase (Black Leopards)

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