S'Busiso Mseleku

Shakes sticks to his guns

2014-12-31 16:26
S’Busiso Mseleku (File)

Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba proved once more to be his own man when he announced his final 23-man squad for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be played in Equatorial Guinea.

In a shock move, the mentor dropped two overseas-based stars - Thulani Serero of Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam and striker Ayanda Patosi of Belgian side, Lokeren FC.

Many would have thought he would take these players, but Mashaba settled for a squad that boasts 18 Absa Premiership players and only five who ply their trade abroad.

Many would have thought Serero - currently rated as the best South African import with Champions League experience - a shoo-in.

Besides showing faith in the majority of players that took the team through the qualifiers, Mashaba also stuck to his policy - as promised when he took over as coach - of rewarding form.

The former Orlando Pirates skipper's squad consists of five players from log-leaders Kaizer Chiefs and three each from Bidvest Wits and Pirates, clubs that are within the top four in the domestic league.

He also proved me wrong with a number of his selections such as that of goalkeeper Jackson Mabogoane whom I had predicted would get the chop while Siyabonga Mpontshane retained, but Mashaba went the opposite direction.

His belief in youth also comes out in his selection where he stuck with 18-year-old Ajax Cape Town defender Rivaldo Coetzee while at 32, Chiefs midfield kingpin Reneilwe Letsholonyane is the oldest.

The squad has three goalkeepers, seven defenders, nine midfielders and four strikers.

Mashaba conceded that it was not an easy task selecting the final squad.

“This was a very hectic exercise and if you look at all the players that were here, it was not easy to select the final 23. Unfortunately, we are bound by rules and regulations of the competition and had to trim the squad. We are glad we managed to select the players we believe will represent the country well in Equatorial Guinea.”

He encouraged the players to grab the opportunity with both hands and make the country proud. Mashaba also had some words of encouragement for those not selected, saying there are many competitions to be played for in 2015 which will provide more opportunities for players to impress.

After a short break from camp, the team will assemble on Friday, January 2 before their Sunday warm-up match against 2012 AFCON champions Zambia at Soweto's Orlando Stadium. Zambia have also qualified for the Equatorial Guinea tournament.

From there, Bafana will travel to Gabon on Tuesday, January 6 for a pre-tournament camp during which they will play friendly matches against Cameroon on January 10 and against Gabon three or four days later.

They'll then move to Mongono in Equatorial Guinea where they are scheduled to play Algeria (Monday, January 19), Senegal (Friday, January, 23) and Ghana (Tuesday, January 27) in the Group stage of the tournament.

We wish them luck in the tournament!

Do you agree with Mashaba's selections? Do you think he was right to leave out Thulani Serero?

Bafana Bafana's AFCON 2015 squad:


Darren Keet (KV Kortrijk), Brilliant Khuzwayo (Kaizer Chiefs), Jackson Mabokgwane (Mpumalanga Black Aces)


Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk), Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax CT), Siyabonga Nhlapo (Wits), Patrick Phungwayo (Orlando Pirates), Thulani Hlatswayo (BidVest Wits), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates)


Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Andile Jali (KV Oostende), Dean Furman (Doncaster Rovers), Mandla Masango (Kaizer Chiefs), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Bongani Zungu (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thamsanqa Sangweni (Chippa United), Thuso Phala (SuperSport United)


Tokelo Rantie (AFC Bournemouth), Bongani Ndulula (AmaZulu), Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits)

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

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