Cape Town - Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba has announced a squad
of 25 players to play against Mauritania as well as Egypt in back-to-back matches.
According to the SAFA website, in the first clash, South Africa will round off their 2017 Gabon
Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers when they face Mauritania on Friday, September 2, 2016.
The encounter has been scheduled for Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
The second match sees South Africa hosting the Pharaohs of Egypt in
the 22nd edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge, which will be played
at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday, September 6, 2016.
Mashaba has kept the bulk of the squad that has been doing duty in
the national team over the last few matches and added some new faces -
Abbubaker Mobara, Deolin Mekoa, Maphosa Modiba. The trio was part of the
squad that won the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup and also travelled to the Rio
2016 Olympic Games, alongside Itumeleng Khune, Rivaldo Coetzee, Thapelo
Morena, Keagan Dolly and Gift Motupa who have also been called up.
This will be Bafana Bafana’s first match since they last played in June against Gambia in the AFCON qualifiers.
The match also comes after recess in the local league, something of a worry to Mashaba.
"It has been very difficult trying to pick the team because
most of the players are still busy with pre-season, only a handful have
matches under their belts. We had to rely mainly on what the players can
do from past experiences. It was a tough call but we had to do it.
Fortunately, some clubs have been playing in pre-season cup
competitions, which is very encouraging," said Mashaba.
Bafana Bafana will not be going to Gabon after failing to qualify for
the tournament with one match to spare - they managed one win (against
Gambia), three draws (one against Gambia and two against Cameroon) and
suffered one loss (against Mauritania).
Some may see this as a meaningless match, but not so says Mashaba.
"When it comes to the national team, there is no match that
doesn’t serve a purpose. We are fortunate we have two back to back to
matches which will assist us great in helping preparing for the
all-important start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifiers where
we are away to Burkina Faso in the opening match less than a month after
we play Egypt," added Mashaba."And soon thereafter, we will be
hosting Senegal in the second match – these are very crucial because a
good start is vital in the qualifiers so that when you falter along the
way or you gain momentum, you already have the points. We learnt our
lesson in the AFCON qualifiers that a good start is key. The good thing
is that the matches are just a month apart and by that time our players
will have gained momentum from the league season, so the matches against
Mauritania and Egypt will prepare us well."
The squad goes into camp on Sunday, August 28 and departs for Mpumalanga on Monday, August 29.
Tickets for the two matches are already on sale and can be purchased at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers countrywide.
Tickets for the match at Mbombela are R50, while the Nelson Mandela Challenge tickets are R80.
Bafana Bafana squad:
Khune, Mabokgwane and Pieterse
Mphahlele, Coetzee, Hlatshwayo, Mobara, Hlanti, Langerman, Daniels and Farmer
Furman, Jali, Mekoa, Masango, Morena, Dolly, Modiba, Makola and Kekana
Motupa, Gabuza, Vilakazi, Rantie and Nxumalo