Not all doom and gloom for Bafana

2013-07-21 14:00

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They may have failed to win the Cosafa Cup, but the squad has shown more positives, writes Timothy Molobi

If ever Bafana coach Gordon Igesund was worried about the depth of his defence, the Cosafa Cup showed there is life without his first-choice back four.

With the CAF’s African Nations Championship tournament coming in January, some of the players who took part in the Cosafa tournament should be considered after seriously putting their hands up.

Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Lehlohonolo Nonyane and Tshepo Gumede did well and gave Igesund hope should his injuries to his key defenders continue to plague his squad.

Ajax Cape Town winger Lebohang Manyama could also stake a claim in the senior Bafana team after his splendid performance in Zambia.

Given time and opportunity, these five players could turn into world-class players.

The versatile Hlatshwayo lived up to his “Tyson” nickname as he fought tooth and nail in the games against Namibia and hosts Zambia with his uncompromising defending.

Thulani Hlatshwayo showed maturity. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The Ajax defender is one of the few who has come through the ranks as he has played for all the junior national teams and the next step should be to command a regular place in the senior national team.

Injuries to Siyabonga Sangweni and Morgan Gould meant Igesund had to do with a makeshift back four but he seemed to have hit the right note during the Cosafa Cup.

His challenge is now to infuse these players into his first team, exposing them to international football where they will gain experience.

For continuity and progress, Igesund needs to include them in his squad for the Nelson Mandela Challenge against Nigeria and the Nelson Mandela Sports Day against Burkina Faso next month.

Gone are the days when Bafana should rely on the tried and tested and it is about time fresh blood came into effect.

Buhle Mkhwanazi is classy. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Some of the Bafana players have been too comfortable and are no longer pulling their weight. But the Zambia tournament once again exposed Bafana’s lack of depth going forward as their strikers were found wanting.

The strike force has always been Bafana’s Achilles’ heel and even the experienced Katlego Mashego did not impress.

He spent most of his time remonstrating with officials and as a result missed yesterday’s third place play-offs against Lesotho, as he was suspended due to unnecessary bookings.

Igesund’s favourite, Lerato Chabangu, did not live up to expectations nor use his experience to good effect and his missed penalty resulted in Bafana being knocked out by Zambia.

Bafana might not have won the tournament but the bigger picture should be building for the future. And Igesund is on course in this regard.

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