IGESUND ANNOUNCES SQUAD TO FACE BOTSWANA
By: Khanyisani Dlomo
Bafana Bafana Head Coach, Gordon Igesund, on Tuesday announced a 23-man squad to face Botswana in a 2014 World Cup qualifier at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Igesund named eight overseas-based players and 15 locals. The squad sees the return of former Bafana captain, Bongani Khumalo who has not played for the national team since the African Cup of Nations in February. Another call up in the defence is the Russia-based Siyanda Xulu who has recovered from an injury.
Igesund understands the importance of this game and said he had to choose a strong squad.
“This has been a difficult exercise picking the team because there are a lot of players doing very well, more of those based overseas. I had to pick my strongest possible squad… The match against Botswana is a huge game for us,” he said.
Ethiopia is leading Group A with 10, just two points ahead of the second-placed Bafana. Botswana is third with seven points while Central African Republic is out of contention with three points. Bafana have to win against Botswana at all cost and hope that Ethiopia sinks or draws to CAR.
Though Bafana’s fate will be decided by the outcome of the CAR versus Ethiopia game, but the coach is optimistic that they will qualify.
“I can’t focus on something we have no control over. What we have to do is to make sure we win our game but I am confident we will beat Botswana with the team I have chosen. We have to go there and win this game.”
Botswana could still qualify if they defeat Bafana by a huge margin and hope that CAR drowns Ethiopia.
Both games will be played simultaneously next week Saturday. The kickoff is at 15:30.
Meanwhile, Igesund also announced the squad that will play in a friendly game against Zimbabwe on the 10thSeptember.
Bafana will be without their overseas-based contingent as they will return in their respective clubs. Orlando Pirates players will not participate because they have a crucial CAF Champions League encounter against AC Leopards on the 14th Septrmber. Only Kermit Erasmus will take part as he is not registered for the competition.
Igesund said that Bucs players are presenting the country and everyone wants to see them do well as Bafana will benefit in the long run.
Full Squad against Botswana:
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Wayne Sandilands and Senzo Meyiwa.
Defenders: Thabo Nthethe, Anele Ngcongca, Bongani Khumalo, Tsepo Masilela, Siyanda Xulu, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Thabo Matlaba.
Midfielders: Kagisho Dikgacoi, Dean Furman, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Oupa Manyisa, Andile Jali, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Bongani Zungu, Thulani Serero, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Daine Klate.
Strikers: Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie and Kermit Erasmus.