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
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
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
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
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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