Johannesburg - Having named a youthful 23-man squad for the upcoming friendly international against Spain, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says the team he named on Thursday is an indication of things to come.
"It is a true reflection of the type of players we are looking for, going forward to the 2015 and 2017 Afcon tournaments in Morocco and Libya respectively, as well as the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia," Igesund said at the SAFA headquarters, in Johannesburg on Thursday.
"You have to get the balance right and it hasn’t been easy because there have been some ambassadors of this country over the last few years who are now slowly coming to the end of their international careers, making way for up and coming youngsters."
The average age of Igesund’s selection is 24, with Bongani Zungu, Ayanda Patosi and Siyanda Xulu all included in a squad which lacked experience, but possessed plenty of quality and excitement.
"We cannot just throw in the youngsters," Igesund said.
"They need guidance from the experienced players. I am also happy that these youngsters are gradually coming through."
Igesund, who looked visibly excited at the prospect of taking on the 2010 Fifa World Cup winners, praised Safa for landing an opponent of Spain’s pedigree.
"It is always a pleasure and a great thrill for any player to play against the best in the world.
"There is no doubt in my mind that they are the best team in the world.
"They are the reigning world and European champions, and for us to be playing against them is a great boost for the country as it will give us a good idea of where we are, but I am confident we will be competitive on the night.
"I also know the fans can go out in numbers and get their tickets to be part of this great spectacle.
"Let us have a great atmosphere at FNB Stadium and give Spain the respect they deserve as the world champions by filling up the venue.
"We will do our part by being competitive. As a football fan this is one match I would not want to miss."
The former Manning Rangers boss made good on his promise to name the strongest possible side for the tie, having included nine foreign-based players, including Dean Furman (Doncaster Rovers, England), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace, England) and Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth FC, England) as part of the squad.
Igesund also recalled goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who would be rested for Bafana's friendly encounter with Swaziland, four days before the Spanish meeting.
SA squad to face Spain:
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Senzo Meyiwa.
Defenders: Thabo Nthete, Bongani Khumalo, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Siyanda Xulu, Anele Ngcongca, Tsepo Masilela, Thabo Matlaba.
Midfielders: Dean Furman, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Andile Jali, Daylon Claasen, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Bongani Zungu, Oupa Manyisa, Ayanda Patosi, Lerato Chabangu, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Sibusiso Vilakazi.
Strikers: Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie, Kermit Erasmus.