A chance to impress

2013-09-10 00:00

WITH a cloud of disappointment still hanging over South African football after failing to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, Bafana Bafana must dust themselves off for what on the surface appears to be a meaningless international friendly against Zimbabwe at Orlando Stadium in Soweto this evening.

The plus for coach Gordon Igesund is that the squad selected for tonight’s clash is vastly different to the one that battered Botswana 4-1 in Durban on Saturday, and he will be given another opportunity to assess some of the players who are on the fringes of making it into the regular first team.

Five of the six Orlando Pirates players from Saturday — Senzo Meyiwa, Thabo Matlaba, Oupa Manyisa, Andile Jali and Daine Klate — have all dropped out of the squad as they turn their attention to this Saturday’s trip to the Congo for a Caf Champions League clash against AC Leopards. Only Kermit Erasmus remains from the Pirates crew after his goal against Botswana as he is unregistered to play in the Champions League.

All of Bafana’s eight overseas-based players from the weekend have been released, while KV Kortrijk (Belgium) goalkeeper Darren Keet joins the squad and seems certain to start after Igesund last week expressed a desire to assess the player.

While the game is still important in Igesund’s quest to see Bafana rise up the world rankings — they are currently 67th in the world — it is also meaningful for a host of players looking to earn a regular place in the squad.

Moroka Swallows midfielder Lerato Chabangu has withdrawn from tonight’s clash for personal reasons, but all of the other 22 players are good to go.

AmaZulu’s Marc van Heerden remains the only representative from any of the three KwaZulu-Natal PSL clubs, and the left back will hope to get the nod at left back ahead of veteran Tshepo Masilela, who was left out of the clash aginst Botswana.

Elsewhere, wide man Thuso Phala will want to prove to Igesund after being dumped last week, while Luyolo Mandela will look to build on a promising start to his international career that saw him score in his last outing against Burkina Faso.

“This game is a friendly and a great opportunity for me to use some of the younger players,” Igesund explained, defending his decision to release the Pirates players and his overseas superstars.

“Pirates’ game against Leopards is a crucial game for them and our country, and we wish them well.”

Tonight’s match kicks off at 8 pm and will be televised on SuperSport Four.


Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Wayne Sandilands, Darren Keet

Defenders: Eric Mathoho, Tshepo Gumede, Thabo Nthethe, Tsepo Masilela, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Marc van Heerden

Midfielders: Hlompho Kekana, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Bongani Zungu, Thuso Phala, Siphiwe Tshabalala, David Mathebula, Ruzaigh Gamildien, Luyolo Nomandela

Strikers: Bernard Parker, Lebogang Manyama, Siphelele Mthembu and Kermit Erasmus.

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