SA’s best to face Spain

2013-11-08 00:00

BAFANA Bafana coach Gordon Igesund named a 23-man squad that illustrated consistency in his selection yesterday ahead of this month’s international friendly against world and European champions Spain.

The match is pencilled in for an 8 pm kick-off at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium.

Nine of the squad are overseas-based players, with familiar faces like midfield workhorse Dean Furman, former captain Bongani Khumalo (both Doncaster Rovers), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk) and striker Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth) all retaining their places from the squad that drew 1-1 in Morocco last month.

While the match has been labelled as important in terms of Bafana being given a rare opportunity to test themselves against the best in the world, it will also serve as preparation for next year’s African Champions Tournament (Chan), which will be staged in South Africa in January, though none of Bafana’s overseas-based players will be eligible for that competition.

Still, winning a tournament of any kind should be considered a priority for a struggling Bafana these days, and Chan presents the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala also makes a return to the national setup despite Kaizer Chiefs’ poor PSL season to date, while Igesund’s former Moroka Swallows golden boy Lerato Chabangu has been recalled.

Igesund has opted for two goalkeepers as opposed to his usual three, with first-choice ’keeper and captain Itumeleng Khune certain to play ahead of Orlando Pirates’ Senzo Meyiwa.

There had been a concern that Khune would be ruled out after injuring his elbow in Tuesday night’s loss to Ajax Cape Town, but Igesund said he had not been made aware of any such news by yesterday.

“Our team doctor is in the process of gathering reports on everybody from all of the clubs, so I am expecting to have that information on my desk by this [yesterday] afternoon,” he said.

The coach added that the match against Spain, which comes just four days after a friendly against Swaziland for which he has selected a watered down squad, would be a good way of judging how far Bafana have progressed since the African Cup of Nations early this year.

“This will give us a good idea of where we are at, and I am confident that we will be competitive on the night,” Igesund told SuperSport, adding that the occasion was a special one for his side. “It is always a pleasure and a great thrill for any player to play against the best in the world. For us to be playing against them is a great boost for the country.”

Igesund said that the match would not only provide preparation for Chan, but also for the road ahead towards the 2015 and 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments in Morocco and Libya.

“We have to get the balance right. We have some players who have been ambassadors of this country over the last few years who are now on their way out of the national team as they will not be around for the 2018 World Cup,” said the coach. “But they have played a huge role and will still do so for a while because we cannot just throw in the youngsters — they need guidance from these experienced players.”

Spain have not named their squad for the match yet, but Safa president Danny Jordaan said yesterday that he expects coach Vincent del Bosque to send a strong side.

“As you approach a World Cup the teams that have qualified will all want to start settling on their sides,” he said.

Tickets for the match start at R50.

Bafana squad v Spain on November 19

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (C) (Kaizer Chiefs), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates)

Defenders: Thabo Nthete (Bloemfontein Celtic FC (SA), Bongani Khumalo (Doncaster Rovers), Buhle Mkhwanazi (Tuks FC), Siyanda Xulu (FC Rostov), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk), Tsepo Masilela (Kaizer Chiefs), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders: Dean Furman (Doncaster Rovers), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace), Andile Jali (Orlando Pirates), Daylon Claasen (Lech Poznan), Kamohelo Mokotjo (PEC Zwolle), Bongani Zungu (Mamelodi Sundowns), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits)

Strikers: Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs), Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth), Kermit Erasmus (Orlando Pirates).

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