Bafana Bafana

Zwane stoked at first call-up

2014-04-08 16:26
Themba Zwane (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Midfielder Themba Zwane got a first call-up when South Africa named a squad Tuesday for friendlies in Australia and New Zealand.

Bafana Bafana coach Gorden Igesund chose 18 players for matches against the Socceroos on May 26 in Sydney and the All Whites on May 30 in Auckland.

Zwane is on loan to Mpumalanga Black Aces from fellow PSL club Mamelodi Sundowns and has received rave reviews from Aces and former national coach Clive Barker.

"Themba is the best footballer I have coached," said the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning coach.

"He is an exceptional talent, should be a national-squad regular, and I rate him above even Doctor Khumalo and Shoes Moshoeu."

Wide midfielders Khumalo and Moshoeu were key cogs in the triumphant Cup of Nations side.

Johannesburg-born Zwane, 24, said calls by Barker for him to be included in the Bafana squad had been a major motivation.

"It was wonderful hearing a legend like Clive praising me.

"The call-up presents a great opportunity and I must make the most of it."

Igesund picked 11 locals and seven Europe-based players while midfielders Dean Furman and Daylon Claasen were unavailable.

"I have selected players capable of doing us proud Down Under," the coach said.

"We are happy to help the Australian World Cup preparations - I hope our match can be of great assistance."

Australia will be rank outsiders in Group B against World Cup title-holders Spain, 2010 runners-up the Netherlands and Chile.

South Africa last played in Australia 20 years ago - twice losing 1-0 - and defeated New Zealand 2-0 when hosting the 2009 Confederations Cup.

The full squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Ronwen Williams.

Defenders: Anelel Ngcongca, Thabo Nthethe, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Siyanda Xulu, Thabo Matlaba, Tsepo Masilela.

Midfielders: Kagisho Dikgacoi, Andile Jali, Bongani Zungu, Themba Zwane, Oupa Manyisa, Thulani Serero, Ayanda Patosi, Siphiwe Tshabalala.

Strikers: Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie.

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