4 January 2012
Bafana Bafana may have missed out on qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be busy in the early part of the year.
A 30-man squad has been announced to play one friendly international and two practice matches against Cup of Nations finalists this month.
In their first action of the year, Bafana face Afcon co-hosts Equatorial Guinea in their capital, Malabo, on 5 January. The clash will mark the opening of one of the match venues for the Afcon finals.
On 11 January, Zambia will provide the opposition at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, with the match kicking off at 20:00. Bafana’s third friendly will be against Ghana on Sunday, 15 January, at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng outside Rustenburg. Kick-off is at 15:15.
Tickets for both home matches will cost R50 and will be available at Computicket outlets, Shoprite and Shoprite/Checkers stores around the country.
The practice matches in South Africa were originally meant to be full-fledged internationals, but they fell outside of the period designated for international matches by world governing body Fifa, which meant that the release of overseas-based players would not be possible.
That was followed by a decision from Premier Soccer League clubs Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and Golden Arrows not to release their players for the fixtures.
Coach Pitso Mosimane’s original 30-man squad included seven new faces: Alie Nazeer of Ajax Cape Town; Rudick Gilbert and Mzikayise Mashaba of Free State Stars; Patrick Phungwayo and Ryan Chapman of Bidvest Wits; Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns and May Mahlangu, who plays in Sweden for Helsingborgs. However, he was then forced to make another five changes after the three PSL clubs refused to release their players.
Darren Keet (Kortrijk, Belgium), Brilliant Khuzwayo (Thanda Royal Zulu), defenders Ayanda Gcaba (Free State Stars), Wayne Arendse (Santos) and midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi (Wits University) were added to the line-up and will all be part of the squad to play in Equatorial Guinea.
After the match in Malabo, the squad’s overseas-based players will be released.
Helsingborgs’ Mahlangu, who earns his first call-up, is one of six overseas-based players in the squad. The others are Siboniso Gaxa (Lierse, Belgium), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk, Belgium), Daylon Claasen (Lierse, Belgium), Darren Keet (KV Kortrijk, Belgium), and Bradley Grobler (GÃ¶ztepe, Turkey).
Incumbent goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was not considered because he is still recovering from injury.
‘The start of preparations’
Mosimane said: “For us, this is the start of preparations for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which we will host.
“This is a training camp for us, where we will be trying various combinations. Unfortunately we won’t have some of the overseas-based players, but again it’s a blessing in disguise in that we will be able to see more players. I am positive the three upcoming matches will help in that regard.”
Goalkeepers: Darren Keet (KV Kortrijk, Belgium), Brilliant Khuzwayo (Thanda Royal Zulu)
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa (Lierse, Belgium), Morgan Gould (Supersport United), Ayanda Gcaba (Free State Stars), Eric Mathoho (Bloemfontein Celtic), Nazeer Alie (Ajax Cape Town), Wayne Arendse (Santos), Rudiger Gilbert (Free State Stars), Patrick Phungwayo (Bidvest Wits)
Midfielders: Daylon Claasen (Lierse, Belgium), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), George Maluleka (Ajax Cape Town), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits), May Mahlangu (Helsingborg, Sweden), Granwald Scott (Ajax Cape Town), Mzikayise Mashaba (Free State Stars), George Lebese (Kaizer Chiefs)
Strikers: Lehlohonolo Majoro (Kaizer Chiefs), Bradley Grobler (Goztepe, Turkey), Siyabonga Nontshinga (Jomo Cosmos), Ryan Chapman (Bidvest Wits)
AllAfrica – All the Time