Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has on Friday named what he described
as his "strongest squad bar none" to face World Cup hosts Brazil at FNB
Stadium on Wednesday, March 5.
"Fortunately, there were no
injuries or other impediments to limit my selection on this very
important and exciting occasion," Igesund said.
"I have chosen
what is largely the same group of players who shocked world champions
Spain with a merited 1-0 victory at the same venue in November last
Igesund's claim that he had chosen all South Africa's top
players for this testing occasion was emphasised by the fact that there
was hardly a single dissenting query from a packed audience of media
representatives at the squad announcement - in striking contrast to what
is the norm on such occasions.
"It is not every day that one
gets to play against a team that boasts the credentials of five-times
world champions," said the Bafana coach.
"This is a great opportunity to continue where we left off against Spain.
also performed with much credit when we lost narrowly by a 1-0 margin
to Brazil on the last occasion the countries met, but we know we are up
against a team that will be motivated by playing in their second-last
warm-up match before the World Cup and all the players will be out to
cement their places in their final squad.
"They will be bringing
most, if not all their top players to South Africa, but I also have a
lot of confidence in the squad I have selected and I believe we will
again be very competitive on the night."
While still to finalise
their squad, Brazil have named 16 European-based players to face Bafana,
most of whom are major luminaries in world soccer and members of
charismatic clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich,
Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Paris St Germaine.
Brazilian players already named for the FNB Stadium game are goalkeeper
Julio Cesar; defenders Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Dante, Dani Alves,
Rafinha and Marcelo: Midfielders Paulinho, Fernandinho, Luiz Gustavo,
Ramires, Oscar and Willian and strikers Neymar, Hulk and Bernard.
The remainder of the squad will come from players based in Brazil and are expected to be announced within the next week.
said the disciplinary issue regarding Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Thulani
Serero had been settled "months ago" and there was no outside issues
preventing his return to the Bafana squad.
As for Igesund's own
future as Bafana coach, a special meeting of the Safa international and
technical committee on Thursday reaffirmed his position in charge for
the Brazil encounter.
Safa also announced the formation of a
committee to investigate unsubstantiated media reports that the Bafana
coach had been guilty of certain technical irregularities, which raised
the possibility that someone was gunning for him despite the fact that
President Zuma and sports minister Fikile Mbulela, among others, have
praised him and expressed unreserved confidence in his ability.
current contract expires in July, but those present at Bafana's squad
announcement were informed, in no small measure, that no questions or
comments relating to the coach's future would be allowed.
Bafana Bafana squadGoalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Ronwen Williams
Defenders: Thabo Nthethe, Bongani Khumalo, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Siyanda Xulu, Anele Ngcongca, Thato Mokeke, Thabo Matlaba
Midfielders: Dean Furman, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Daylon Claasen, Thulani Serero, Andile Jali, Oupa Manyisa, Ayanda Patosi, Lindokuhle Mbatha, Bongani Zungu, Hlompho Kekana
Strikers: Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie, Dino Ndlovu