Cape Town - Bafana Bafana held their first training session on Monday at People’s Park, next to the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban as they prepare for the opening of the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Gabon 2017 qualifiers.
South Africa takes on Gambia on Saturday, June 13 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
All the players have reported for national team duty except for striker Tokelo Rantie, who exchanged wedding vows this weekend.
Sphelele Ntshangase of Black Leopards will complete the squad when he joins in the afternoon as he will be arriving in Durban with the National U23 Team.
The Orlando Pirates quartet of Oupa Manyisa, Patrick Phungwayo, Ntsikelelo Nyauza and Thabo Matlaba has already arrived together with Jabulani Shongwe of Bidvest Wits. They missed the morning training but should be available for the afternoon session.
Three players had a light training session in the morning - Thulani Serero (stomach pain), Thulani Hlatswayo and Clayton Daniels (both tight muscles) but it is nothing too serious.
Also missing out the earlier training was Thuso Phala who is suffering from a bout of flu and had to remain at the hotel while his teammates slugged it out. He has also been given the afternoon off and will only resume training on Tuesday (9 June) with the rest of the players.
“The leagues are in recess around the world so this morning we were just checking the level of fitness of the boys because they have been on holiday," said Mashaba.
"Understandably, they were dragging themselves, and have lost their sharpness but we can only hope they come right for the match and that is our mission this week. I believe they will be ready for the game.
“First impressions last long, and that is what we must remember when we go into this opening match against Gambia so that the next opposition will have a lot of questions about us.
"We should not worry much about the opposition but focus on our strength. Winning games is very important as it gives you confidence to approach the next match, so it is crucial to get a good result in this clash,” said Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Mashaba.
On Sunday, June 7 four players were withdrawn from the squad – Tefu Mashamaite (family commitments), Dean Furman (knee injury), Sibusiso Vilakazi (ankle injury) and Mzikayise Mashaba (shoulder injury) and were replaced by Tshepo Gumede (Orlando Pirates), Nyauza, Ntshangase and Shongwe.
Kick-off is at 15:00.