Shakes Mashaba set the cat among the pigeons with
his announcement of the provisional 34-man Bafana Bafana squad for the 2015
Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Equatorial Guinea.
As it is always the case when a national team coach
releases his selection, the first reaction was about players left out.
No sooner had Mashaba announced the team, than people
were questioning why there was no place for Itumeleng Khune. His non-selection
was made despite the goalkeeper having not handled a football in months.
Khune is out with an ankle injury and has not even
started playing for his club, Kaizer Chiefs.
Some questioned the absence of Amakhosi defender Tefu
Mashamaite and his SuperSport peer Sibusiso Khumalo.
Other players that people thought deserved places in
the team included the Orlando Pirates striking pair of Lehlohonolo Majoro and
Kermit Erasmus plus the young Fagrie Lakay of Santos.
First, let me confess that I was surprised by the
omission of Mashamaite given his glittering performances at Chiefs this
season as well as the high qualities of
leadership he has displayed as captain.
Besides his excellent defending - which has
contributed immensely to Chiefs having the meanest defence in the league - he
also chips in with crucial goals.
As for Khumalo, who has made a good impression under
Mashaba, he falls into the same category as Khune because of injury. Surely the
wily, old Mashaba must have found out from
his club how long it will take the player to fully recover before
leaving him out?
As for the other players, I always say the coach knows
best as is the one who knows what pattern of play he will adopt and as a
result knows which players will fit that style.
Then came the argument on which of the 34 will be dropped when the coach trims his team to the required 23.
This means Mashaba still has to drop 11 players from
the initial squad.
Some candidates are likely to be Jackson Mabogoane
(Mpumalanga Black Aces) in the goalkeeping department, Siyabonga Nhlapo, Patrick Phungwayo,
Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Thabo Matlaba and Mzikayise Mashaba in defence.
In midfield, the likes of Asavela Mbekile, Jabulani
Shongwe, Vuyisile Wana, Mondli Cele and Thuso Phala will most likely be among
the candidates to give way.
Given South Africa's Achilles heel in scoring goals,
Mashaba might take all five strikers - Ayanda Patosi, Bernard Parker,
Bongani Ndulula, Tokelo Rantie and David Zulu - to the tournament to enable him
to try different combinations as well as have good cover in that department.
All we can do, is wish all the players who will make
the final cut good luck and wish them well at the tournament.
Bafana Bafana squad provisional AFCON 2015 squad:
Darren Keet (KV Kortrijk), Siyabonga Mpontshane (Platinum Stars), Brilliant Khuzwayo (Kaizer Chiefs), Jackson Mabokgwane (Mpumalanga Black Aces)
Ngcongca (Racing Genk), Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee
(Ajax CT), Kwanda Mngonyama (Maritzburg United), Siyabonga Nhlapo
(Wits), Ntsikelelo Nyauza (Orlando Pirates), Patrick Phungwayo (Orlando
Pirates), Thulani Hlatswayo (BidVest Wits), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando
Pirates), Mzikayise Mashaba (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Wits), Oupa Manyisa
(Orlando Pirates), Andile Jali (KV Oostende), Dean Furman (Doncaster
Rovers), Mandla Masango (Kaizer Chiefs), Thulani Serero (Ajax
Amsterdam), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Asavele Mbekile
(Mamelodi Sundowns), Vuyisile Wana (Moroka Swallows), Jabulani Shongwe
(BidVest Wits), Bongani Zungu (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thamsanqa Sangweni
(Chippa United), Mondli Cele (Maritzburg United), Thuso Phala
Rantie (AFC Bournemouth), Bongani Ndulula (AmaZulu), David Zulu (Chippa
United), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren), Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs)
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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