Mark Gleeson

Gleeson picks his SWC side

2010-04-05 07:38
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Bafana Bafana gave us all a lift last week with the draw against Paraguay, even if there is little to read into such results.

It has been a while since the national side returned from a foreign trip without defeat – indeed not since a meaningless World Cup qualifier against Equatorial Guinea in October 2008.

The side’s last important away win was in October 2006 when Aaron Mokoena’s goal ensured a 1-0 away win in Zambia at the start of the 2008 African Nations Cup qualifiers.

Since then there have been more than a dozen foreign trips without success, so it was with great delight that the team returned from Asuncion with their heads held high and hopefully some points to push us up in the next FIFA rankings!

Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has expressed his pleasure with the result of the training camp in Brazil as the players arrive home on Monday and Tuesday after a month’s exhausting work.

But half of his work is about to be rendered meaningless, as the size of the squad is now due to be cut considerably for the next phase of preparations in Germany.

In all we can expect a maximum of 15 locally-based players to eventually make the World Cup squad and perhaps as few as three to actually start the opening match against Mexico on June 11.

Itumeleng Khune and Teko Modise are arguably the only two who can be sure of their place and Morgan Gould, if he recovers from his ankle operation. Gould has missed the trip to Brazil because of the surgery and recovery time after a rather innocuous injury on the field for SuperSport United near the end of the league campaign in February.

Of the others Siphiwe Tshabalala is on the fringes of the first team selection along with Siboniso Gaxa in the troublesome right back position.

Lucas Thwala will make the squad as cover at left back and Siyabonga Sangweni as a back-up centre back. Lance Davids might also be chosen as a cover player, given his ability at full back as well as in midfield. Katlego Mphela will be one of the strikers in the squad but no necessarily in the starting line-up.

But do not expect a big revolution after Brazil; if truth were told it was an exercise largely wasted on a group of players who, unfortunately for them, will not make the final 23-man squad for the World Cup.

With time now running out before the opener at Soccer City, it is time to start predicting a possible starting XI and I will hazard a guess to see how close I get to what Parreira actually picks on the day against Mexico. I challenge you to try the same.

My team for the opening match of the World Cup is:
Khune (goal); Moon (right back), Masilela (left back), Gould and Mokoena (central defence); Dikgacoi (defensive midfielder); Pienaar (left), Van Heerden (right), Modise (centre); Parker and McCarthy upfront.


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