South Africa face a crucial few days as they look to reverse their recent fortunes with a clash against Gambia in the 2017 African Nations Cup qualifiers and a friendly international against COSAFA rivals Angola.
The Gambia match will be played on June 13 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, while the Angola clash is scheduled for the Cape Town Stadium on June 16. Both matches kick off at 15h00.
Coach Shakes Mashaba admits it will be a testing period for his team.
“This is a very important period for us in the national team as we attempt to repeat what we did in the 2015 qualifiers. We have set ourselves high standards when we qualified for the last tournament with a match to spare – and we can’t go below that,” said Mashaba.
“In selecting this squad, it was important to call up players who will be able to assist us now with their experience and also look at the future as to who will be with us in 2017. So we had to combine those two aspects; this is not the time to build but we have go for glory.”
The Bafana Bafana mentor is also aware that with most of the leagues around the world in recess, it might be difficult to get the players going.
“It is a very difficult time for all of us in that regard, and unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it. With the players enjoying a break, the body tends to switch off a little. But we believe our players are professional enough, and know what is expected of them. We have sat down to work on a training programme that will get them back in full speed as soon as possible and I am confident by match day they will give us what we want,” added Mashaba.
“I have selected 27 players because we have back-to-back matches within a short space of time and it is important that we give other players a chance. And also, you may have seen recently in the COSAFA Cup we had four injuries, so it is important that we have enough cover as we have limited time and bearing in mind the players are in recess. We would also like to thank those players who will heed the call, and their clubs as well as the PSL for the support.”
BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Jackson Mabokgwane (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Itumeleng Khune, Brilliant Khuzwayo (both Kaizer Chiefs)
Defenders: Anele Ngcongca (Genk, Belgium), Patrick Phungwayo, Thabo Matlaba (both Orlando Pirates), Siyabonga Nhlapho, Thulani Hlatshwayo (both BidVest Wits), Tefu Mashamaite (Kaizer Chiefs), Clayton Daniels (SuperSport United), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Marc van Heerden (AmaZulu)
Midfielders: Andile Jali (KV Oostende, Belgium), Dean Furman (Unattached), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), May Mahlangu (Konyaspor, Turkey), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam, Holland), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren, Belgium), Thuso Phala (SuperSport United), Mandla Masango (Kaizer Chiefs), Mzikayise Mashaba, Bongani Zungu (both Mamelodi Sundowns)
Strikers: Bonginkosi Ntuli (AmaZulu), Sibusiso Vilakazi (BidVest Wits), Vuyisile Wana (Moroka Swallows), Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth, England), Gift Motupa (Baroka FC)