BAFANA MENTOR FACES FIRST TEST
By: Nomfundo Zuma
Shakes Mashaba will be put to the test when his side take on Sudan in an away Afcon qualifier on Friday.
The pressure is on Mashaba to prove his worth as Bafana Bafana’s new coach. This will be the first game in charge after taking over from Gordon Igesund whose contract was not renewed by the South African football Association.
Having coached Bafana Bafana before, Mashaba is known for his regular use of young players which is evident in the squad that he has selected to play in Friday’s game. The former Black Leopards mentor shocked a lot of supporters when he announced his squad and the reserves.
Mashaba has included in his squad the likes of David Zulu, Ayabule Magqwaka and Keagan Dolly to mention just a few. Zulu was the top goal-scorer in the National First Division last season, but has only three games to his name in top-flight football.
However, Mashaba’s preparations have hit a snag following skipper and shot-stopper, Itumeleng khune being withdrawn from the squad with a fracture to his foot.
With South Africa’s number one goalkeeper out for a while, Senzo Meyiwa has to step up to the plate and prove his worth in the next two Afcon qualifiers against Nigeria.
The experienced coach surprised Bafana Bafana faithful when he omitted experienced players from the squad. Mashaba has requested that the senior national team take on a positive approach to all their forthcoming fixtures.
“I have always said that the fortunes of South African football have totally changed for the better in recent times and it is a good feeling to go into the national team camp with the U20 CAF qualification in the bag. Now it is time to move on and I am asking the senior players to take this positive vibe forward,” he said.
He also pleaded with South Africa to give the team support. “What I would now like to request is for the country to rally around all our national teams because we are bringing that pride back,” said Mashaba.