Kwanda joins Bafana

2014-09-26 00:00

MARITZBURG United centre-back Kwanda Mngonyama was given a surprise birthday present when he was yesterday included in Shakes Mashaba’s 26-man Bafana Bafana squad that will play Congo home and away in next month’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

The centre-back joined the Team of Choice at the start of the campaign on a season-long loan from Mamelodi Sundowns, and a series of strong performances at the heart of the United defence has not gone unnoticed by Mashaba.

“This is the best present one could ask for, to represent my country. Given the opportunity to play, I will give it my very best,” Mngonyama told the Maritzburg United website yesterday.

Mashaba kept in line with his philosophy of casting his net far and wide, proving that he has no interest in selecting players solely because they play for Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, by selecting National First Division striker Fagrie Lakay from Santos FC.

The other major talking point was a call-up for talented Ajax Amsterdam playmaker Thulani Serero.

Serero was not a part of the squad that started their 2015 Afcon qualification with a 3-0 win in Sudan and then a 0-0 draw at home to Nigeria earlier this month, and his fallout with former coach Gordon Igesund was also well documented. But the 24-year-old now has a chance to revive his international career under Mashaba.

There was just reward for the Chiefs duo of defender Tefu Mashamaite and central midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane. The form of Letsholonyane, in particular, has been impressive for Chiefs so far this season, but with Dean Furman and Andile Jali so impressive together against Nigeria, Mashaba might find it difficult to tinker with his setup.

“We needed some back-up in some positions due to the unavailability of some players, but it is more or less the same team that played Sudan and Nigeria — it’s a question of ‘if it ain’t broken, why fix it?’,” Mashaba said yesterday.

Nineteen of the players who featured against Sudan and Nigeria have been retained. There were also recalls for Orlando Pirates striker Kermit Erasmus, while AmaZulu striker Bongani Ndulula kept his place in the squad after a goal on debut against Sudan.

Congo have started strongest in Group A of qualifying, shocking Nigeria before defeating Sudan to top the group on maximum points.

“The good thing is that we play them in our back yard almost immediately after the first match and we don’t have to wait for weeks to get it out of the way,” said Mashaba.

“It’s going to be a tough match, no doubt about it. I saw the way they played against Nigeria; they are a good side. It is crucial for us to try and win these two matches — away and at home — and we should almost be near qualification if we achieve that,” he added.

BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS:

Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates)

Darren Keet (KV Kortrijk)

Dumisani Msibi (SuperSport United)

DEFENDERS:

Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk)

Ayabulela Magqwaka (Ajax Cape Town)

Sibusiso Khumalo (SuperSport)

Thulani Hlatshwayo (Wits)

Kwanda Mngonyama (Maritzburg United)

Erick Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs)

Thabo Matlaba (Pirates)

Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax)

Tefu Mashamaite (Chiefs)

MIDFIELDERS:

Andile Jali (KV Oostende)

Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Sibusiso Vilakazi (Wits)

Oupa Manyisa (Pirates)

Dean Furman (Doncaster Rovers)

Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam)

Mandla Masango (Chiefs)

Keagan Dolly (Ajax)

Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Chiefs)

STRIKERS:

Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth FC)

Bongani Ndulula (AmaZulu)

Kermit Erasmus (Pirates)

Fagrie Lakay (Santos)

2015 AFCON QUALIFIERS

October 11 - Congo v SA (Pointe Noire)

October 15 - SA v Congo (Polokwane).

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