Bafana Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund has announced a 25-man squad to play in the forthcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Central African Republic (CAR) and Ethiopia next month.
The first of the two World Cup qualifiers against CAR in Yaoundé, Cameroon will be played on Saturday, 8 June at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo (kick off 15h00) with the second match against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa pencilled for Sunday, 16 June (kick off 15h00 SA time).
Despite Bafana Bafana having been ravaged by injuries to its core players especially in defence, Igesund has kept the nucleus of the squad. He has brought in seven players who were not part of the personnel that faced CAR in Cape Town in March.
Injuries have ruled out defenders Morgan Gould, Siyabonga Sangweni, Siyanda Xulu, and Thabo Matlaba, as well as striker Dino Ndlovu while Daylon Claasen who is not attached to any club is out. Midfielder Lerato Chabangu has also been left out.
Called up to the squad are defenders Tsepo Masilela, Tefo Mashamaite, Siboniso Gaxa (all Kaizer Chiefs), as well as Bevan Fransman of Supersport United.
Also returning to the Bafana Bafana fold after a long absence are Thandani Ntshumayelo and Tlou Segolela (both Orlando Pirates), Richard Henyekane of Mamelodi Sundowns and Katlego Mashego of Moroka Swallows.
The two qualifiers are part of Bafana Bafana’s “Road to Brazil” campaign.
“These are two very important matches for us, and even though we are missing a few players through injuries or loss of form, things are looking very positive. The players I have selected for these matches are highly technical and ready for the challenge. They also know what is at stake. I am quite confident that we will pull through,” said Igesund.
“These are huge encounters for us, and as for the CAR match, the most important thing is that we must not lose this game. If we don’t win then we need to have a draw so we can stay in the race because we still have to meet and hopefully beat Ethiopia the following week who are top of the group with two points ahead.”
The Bafana Bafana mentor believes that even though playing away, he will have to stick to his offensive strategy in order to get positive results.
“We beat CAR convincingly in Cape Town in March, and we want to continue with our attacking game like we did back then and I believe playing in a neutral venue will help in that regard. We have to be offensive if we want to get something out of the match against CAR or we will be putting ourselves in a very tight corner.
“The following week will be key against Ethiopia; of course depending on how they would have played against Botswana,” added Igesund.
Bafana Bafana will meet for camp on 29 May to start preparations for this assignment and will leave for Cameroon on 4 June assemble for camp on Wednesday, 29 May at SAFA House at midday.
Bafana Bafana squad v Central African Republic (CAR) and Ethiopia
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Wayne Sandilands, Senzo Meyiwa
Defenders: Anele Ngcongca, Siboniso Gaxa, Tsepo Masilela, Tebogo Langerman, Erick Mathoho, Thabo Nthethe, Tefu Mashamaite, Bevan Fransman
Midfielders: Thuso Phala, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Dean Furman, May Mahlangu, Tlou Segolela, Thandani Ntshumayelo, Oupa Manyisa, Richard Henyekane, Daine Klate
Strikers: Tokelo Rantie, Bernard Parker, Katlego Mashego