Mashaba drops overseas star players

2015-01-02 00:00

BAFANA Bafana coach Shakes ­Mashaba proved once more to be his own man when he announced his ­final 23-man squad for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) to be played in Equatorial Guinea.

In a shock move, the mentor dropped two overseas-based stars — Thulani Serero of Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam and striker Ayanda Patosi of Belgian side Lokeren FC.

Many would have thought he would take these players, but Mashaba settled for a squad who boast 18 Absa Premiership players and only five who ply their trade abroad.

Many would have thought Serero, currently rated as the best South African import with Champions League experience, a shoo-in.

Besides showing faith in the majority of players who took the team through the qualifiers, Mashaba also stuck to his policy, as promised when he took over as coach, of rewarding form. The former Orlando Pirates skipper’s squad consists of five players from log-leaders Kaizer Chiefs and three each from Bidvest Wits and Pirates, clubs that are within the top four in the domestic league.

He also proved me wrong with a number of his selections such as that of goalkeeper Jackson Mabogoane, whom I had predicted would get the chop while Siyabonga Mpontshane would be retained, but Mashaba went the opposite direction.

His belief in youth also comes out in his selection where he stuck with 18-year-old Ajax Cape Town defender Rivaldo Coetzee while Chiefs midfield kingpin Reneilwe Letsholonyane is the oldest at 32.

The squad have three goalkeepers, seven defenders, nine midfielders and four strikers.

Mashaba conceded that it was not an easy task selecting the final squad.

“This was a very hectic exercise and if you look at all the players that were here, it was not easy to select the final 23. Unfortunately, we are bound by rules and regulations of the competition and had to trim the squad. We are glad we managed to select the players we believe will represent the country well in Equatorial Guinea.”

After a short break from camp, the team will assemble today before their Sunday warm-up match against 2012 Afcon champions Zambia at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium. From there, Bafana will travel to Gabon on January 6 for a pre-tournament camp. — Sport24.

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