Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki recently announced the squad to battle for their two key fixtures in order to secure a place for the Africa Cup of Nations scheduled to be held in Cameroon next year.
The team knows that they have two weeks to prepare for the game against Ghana as a defeat could cost them to miss out of the continent’s elite competition in Cameroon and could put Ntseki on a path towards an exit.
The Bafana Bafana sits second in the Group C and are level on points with Ghana. The coach highlighted some of the issues and why he came up with the 26-man squad put together to face Ghana and Sudan.
Some of the issues he highlighted include limited game time for key players, goalkeeping concerns, and that which have plagued Bongani Zungu in recent weeks.
In February, Midfield maestro Zungu and four other teammates were dragged into a disciplinary hearing by Scottish League leaders, Rangers because of a house party they hosted, which was against Covid-19 protocol.
Although they have recently been integrated back into the team, lack of games could be a problem.
“Bongani Zungu went through his club’s disciplinary committee. He also sent me an apology about what happened. And hopefully would have learnt his lesson,” said Ntseki on Zungu’s inclusion.
“As a national team, we deal with discipline issues in our team. If it happens at a club, we respect how the club deals with it. We are happy to have him in the team.”
On-field minutes for the midfielder have also been hard to come by this season. The 28-year-old, who is currently on loan in Rangers from French second division side Amiens, has struggled to gain regular football time under Rangers manager, Steven Gerrard.
Finding a keeper
Also, finding a consistent goalkeeper to backup the SuperSport United’s Ronwen Williams is another issue. Only Ronwen Williams has featured regularly and is the favourite to start both games.
Itumeleng Khune has been showing indifferent form since the campaign began, making uncharacteristic mistakes which have led to goals.
“Khune was called into a meeting at Chiefs about those blunders. He said he was trying to play from the back. I also spoke to him and he told me some of the things he was going through. In training his coach is happy with his attitude. He’s played well, except for those four goals against Wydad [Casablanca in the CAF Champions League],” said Ntseki.
Bafana Bafana have won three and lost one in their last four games. The loss came against the Black Stars of Ghana who many people believe are the favourites to top the group.
“When you look at the log standings, as South Africa we have done very well,” stated Ntseki. “And when we do our permutations, any of the top three teams, if they win their matches, they will win the group.”
Ntseki’s side are scheduled to face Ghana in Johannesburg on 25 March, before their last battle with Sudan three days later in Khartoum.
Here’s Bafana Bafana’s full squad list:
Goalkeepers: Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs).
Defenders: Thibang Phete (OS Belenenses, Portugal), Siyanda Xulu (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Orlando Pirates), Mosa Lebusa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates), Sifiso Hlanti (Swallows), Thapelo Morena (Mamelodi Sundowns), Craig Martin (Cape Town City).
Midfielders: Rivaldo Coetzee (Mamelodi Sundowns), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thulani Serero (Al Jazira, Abu Dhabi), Ben Motshwari (Orlando Pirates), Bongani Zungu (Rangers, Scotland), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France), Percy Tau (Brighton & Hove Albion, England)
Strikers: Kermit Erasmus (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United), Ruzaigh Gamildien (Swallows), Lyle Foster (Vitória Guimarães, Portugal)