Who’ll be Bafana’s assistant coach?

 Kwanele Kopo is said to be a contender. Picture :Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix
Kwanele Kopo is said to be a contender. Picture :Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix

There could be new faces on the Bafana Bafana technical team when they face São Tomé and Príncipe later this month.

Bafana will face the island nation in back-to-back 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

South Africa will host the first leg at FNB Stadium in Nasrec, Johannesburg, before travelling to São Tomé and Príncipe for the return leg a few days later at the Estadio Nacional 12 de Julho. The game will be played on an artificial pitch.

City Press has reliably learnt that Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki has recommended either Kwanele Kopo or Farouk Khan to fill the vacant post of assistant coach.

Ntseki has been assisted by Kaizer Chiefs reserve team coach Arthur Zwane and former Bafana coach Trott Moloto on an ad hoc basis since he took over as coach in September.

There could also be a new goalkeeper coach, and Andre Arendse could miss out.

The former Bafana goalkeeper has already been replaced by Grant Johnson at SuperSport United, after Arendse was elevated to the position of first assistant coach to head coach Kaitano Tembo.

Golden Arrows assistant coach Mandla Ncikazi was also considered, but City Press has been reliably informed that he was unavailable.

Ntseki has now set his sights on either Khan or Kopo, who is doubling up on his SuperSport United duties as assistant coach by assisting David Notoane, head of the Under-23 national team.

Ntseki worked with Kopo when they guided the Under-17 team to their maiden World Cup qualification in 2015. According to an insider, he rates the 44-year-old renowned youth coach highly, citing his work ethic, humility and tactical awareness.

“He also attended courses with Farouk, and the two get on well together,” added the source.

But Safa has poured cold water on the idea of the two men being possible candidates.

In a written response, Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi denied that the federation had conducted interviews with the pair.

“If there are any changes to the technical team, coach Ntseki will announce that during his press conference [this week],” wrote Chimhavi.

Ntseki has been visiting PSL clubs in a bid to foster relationships with coaches. This week, he was in Limpopo, where he visited Black Leopards, Baroka and Polokwane City to scout for players.

But City Press has reliably learnt that one of the reasons he went there was to talk to Black Leopards captain Thabo Matlaba, who could be a surprise inclusion in the team.

According to insiders, Ntseki sees Matlaba as a capable replacement for the injured Thapelo Morena because of his pace down the line.

A fit Matlaba can add value to the defence and attack with his foraging runs, and can link up play with strikers as he can also play as an attacking winger.

Another surprise inclusion could be Maritzburg United’s left back, Mxolisi Kunene, who has been on the coach’s radar for some time.

There’s a question mark regarding goalkeeper Darren Keet, who has only featured about 10 times for his Belgian side OH Leuven.

Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo is expected to be ready for the clashes after having suffered a concussion during his match against SuperSport last weekend.

After two rounds of matches, Bafana are second on the log, having lost to Ghana and beaten Sudan in their two opening-round matches that form part of the qualifiers to Cameroon.

Ntseki will announce his team on Thursday.

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