Mark Gleeson

Who to cull?

2010-05-31 15:32
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

D-Day is upon us, the cruellest cut of them all. By midnight on Tuesday, all 32 Soccer World Cup finalists must submit to FIFA their final 23-man squads for the upcoming tournament.

Many have done so already, certain of the combinations to represent them in South Africa.

Bafana Bafana are down to the last 28 players with five awaiting the guillotine. It must be the most devastating decision of any player’s career, to come this close to World Cup selection only to have the dream and the prize snatched away from you at the late stage.

It can’t be too easy on coach Carlos Alberto Parreira either, although, with all his experience, he has done this sort of culling many times before.

Parreira has been fielding a regular selection in the recent friendly matches, in many times showing his hand early. Tonight’s game against Guatemala might be a last chance for a few of the fringe players but he will probably again go with his preferred selection, tweaking the line-up just here and there.

The first cut will come among the goalkeepers. Parreira will take three to the World Cup finals and has Itumeleng Khune and Moeneeb Josephs as his first two choices. Rowen Fernandez, even though he has played little in the German league over the last two years, will likely get the nod over the uncapped Shu-Aib Walters, initially chosen for the national side while Joel Santana was still coach and while he was battling even to get a berth in the Bloemfontein Celtic line-up.

At right back, Siboniso Gaxa looks secure in the job, with Bruce Moon his deputy. This means Anele Ngcongca is likely to be dropped, having not played for the national team since getting 45 minutes against Namibia in March.

Tsepo Masilela is the first choice at left back although injury will keep him out against Guatemala. His deputy is Lucas Thwala, which means Innocent Mdledle, is another likely to be cut from the squad, even though Parreira is a fan of his raw power. In years to come Mdledle will be a much better player if he learns to add some decision- making and finesse to his brute strength and running power.

All four central defenders will stay because the coaches believe they will need lots of cover in this department because of possible injury and suspensions. That means guarantees for Aaron Mokoena, Bongani Khumalo, Siyabonga Sangweni and Matthew Booth, which is also the order of preference.

The pecking order amid the three defensive midfielders was Thanduyise Khuboni first followed by Kagisho Dikgacoi and then MacBeth Sibaya. 

Parreira is only going to play with one in the World Cup. Khuboni is his new favourite but he was muscled out by the Colombians last Thursday and Parreira has probably decided to go with Dikgacoi in the starting line-up from now. It leaves Lance Davids to fall out.

The attacking midfielders will be Steven Pienaar, Teko Modise and Siphiwe Tshabalala in the startling line-up and Reneilwe Letsholonyane as back-up.

Franklin Cale on the left wing is the deputy for Tshabalala but with Pienaar also able to play there and Siyabonga Nomvete as well, Cale is likely the fifth and last player to be cut from the squad. He came on against Bulgaria at the Orlando Stadium last Monday and struggled.

The rest of the squad will be made up of Benni McCarthy, Katlego Mphela, Bernard Parker and Nomvete, who will have completed a remarkable revival of his flagging career.

I would be interested to hear who you feel will be the five to drop out. But if you are going to put your finger to your keyboard, please offer up some rational reasons for your culls.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    mark gleeson  |  south africa

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