South Africa name squad for Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers

South Africa coach Molefi Ntseki has gone for form over reputation in selecting his squad for the vital Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Ghana and Sudan later this month.

Bafana will likely need to avoid defeat in Sudan to qualify for the finals in Cameroon next January, putting them under pressure in a difficult away fixture.

Ntseki admits selecting this squad was a difficult balancing act, with some players inactive due to COVID restrictions, out of favour with their clubs or unavailable for a range of other reasons.

“That is why we have requested to take a larger squad with a number of players who can play in different positions. We need to be ready for all eventualities,” Ntseki says.

Familiar names include captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, goalkeepers Ronwen Williams and Itumeleng Khune, midfielders Keagan Dolly, Bongani Zungu and Dean Furman, and strikers Percy Tau and Bradley Grobler.

But Ntseki has also included the likes of Cape Town City utility player Craig Martin, who can play at right-back or on the wing, Orlando Pirates midfielder Ben Motshwari, Sipho Mbule from SuperSport United, and Swallows FC forward Ruzaigh Gamildien.

There are also recalls for Siyanda Xulu (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel) and Rivaldo Coetzee (Mamelodi Sundowns), and a first call-up for goalkeeper Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu).

Bafana will play Ghana at FNB Stadium on March 25 and Sudan in Omdurman on March 28.

They are level on nine points with Ghana at the top of their pool, with Sudan hovering just behind on six points. Both of those must still also play Sao Tome e Principe, where they are likely to pick up wins.

Bafana Bafana squad:

Goalkeepers: Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs)

Defenders: Thibang Phete (Belenenses, Portugal), Siyanda Xulu (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel), Thulani Hlatshwayo, Innocent Maela (both Orlando Pirates), Mosa Lebusa, Thapelo Morena (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Sifiso Hlanti (Swallows FC), Craig Martin (Cape Town City)

Midfielders: Rivaldo Coetzee, Themba Zwane, Andile Jali (all Mamelodi Sundowns), Thulani Serero (Al Jazira, UAE), Ben Motshwari (Orlando Pirates), Bongani Zungu (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France), Sipho Mbule (SuperSport United), Dean Furman (Carlisle United, England)

Strikers: Percy Tau (Brighton & Hove Albion, England), Luther Singh (Pacos de Ferreira, Portugal), Kermit Erasmus (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United), Ruzaigh Gamildien (Swallows FC), Lyle Foster (Vitoria Guimaraes, Portugal)