Nontshinga: I'll make the grade
Siyabonga Nontshinga (Gallo Images)
Durban - Jomo Cosmos striker Siyabonga Nontshinga believes he will make the international grade if he is given time to find his feet in the Bafana Bafana set up.
South Africa are desperately searching for net finders alongside Katlego Mphela ahead of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and next year's Africa Cup of Nations.
"I can't say I'm the immediate solution, but as time goes on I will make the grade," Nontshinga said.
"I do know that there's still things I need to work on in my game.
"It's nice that I always feel welcome in the national side and coach Pitso [Mosimane] always tells us to be ourselves and to play our natural game."
While Nontshinga, who made his national debut in the 1-1 draw against Ivory Coast in Port Elizabeth in November, tries to prove his worth at a higher level, Mphela's relationship with fans has not been entirely positive.
The country's top striker was jeered in Bafana's last home match against the Ivorians, and later in games for his club, Mamelodi Sundowns.
This, again, prompted Mosimane to ask the fans to lay off the national team's only proven goal scorer.
"Maybe Mphela is not scoring enough, but when you look at Bafana and in the Premier Soccer League, who is the top scorer?" Mosimane said on Monday.
"Is there anything bigger than that. What do you want?"
For the international friendly against Senegal on Wednesday, Mosimane has opted to blood forward Edward Manqele from Free State Stars.
The in-form Manqele, 24, may be considered too old to be referred to as a promising youngster.
He is, however, grateful for the experience and the faith shown in him by Mosimane.
"I'm happy to have gotten a chance. I was excited and couldn't believe that I got the call up," Manqele said.
"I know that the team needs strikers. If I do get a chance, I will give it my best."
Manqele was playing in South Africa's third-tier division, the Vodacom League, less than a year ago.