BAFANA Bafana head coach Gordon Igesund has announced a 28-man squad that will play in the Nelson Mandela Challenge clash against reigning African Champions Nigeria.
The match is scheduled to take place this coming Wednesday at the Moses
Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Kickoff is at 8.15pm.
Nine players will be released from the squad after the first match – six Orlando Pirates players and three from overseas and will not be available for the second match against Burkina Faso in the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day on Saturday, 17 November at the FNB Stadium.
Pirates has a CAF Champions League fixture on the same day that Bafana is playing, while the overseas-based players return to their clubs as the Burkina Faso clash does not fall under the FIFA calendar.
“There is not much we can do, that is why we called a bloated squad to cover for the departure of the nine players. We can’t lose sight of the fact that we are playing this match for the greatest statesman that has ever lived, Madiba. Moreover, these are two formidable teams we are going to face,” said the Bafana mentor.
“If you look at Nigeria, they have very good players and most of them play overseas, which shows this is not going to be an easy match. But at the same time it is a good challenge for our players having to face the two sides. It gives us great preparation for our crucial Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Botswana next month.”
Igesund has given first time call-ups to Luyolo Nomandela (Free State Stars) and Bongani Zungu (Mamelodi Sundowns).
Goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, who was also at the COSAFA CUP tournament where he was
captain, has also been included alongside Itumeleng Khune and Senzo Meyiwa.
Andile Jali (Orlando Pirates) and Innocent Mdledle (Supersport United) make a return after long absence from the national team, while Tshepo Masilela (Kaizer Chiefs) and Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates) have recovered from their injuries.
The Bafana head has also rewarded some of the players who did duty in the 2013 COSAFA Cup tournament in Zambia where Bafana finished in third position.
The five are defenders Tshepo Gumede (Platinum Stars), Buhle Mkhwanazi (Tuks), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Ajax Cape Town), midfield strongman Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), and striker Lebogang Manyama (Ajax Cape Town).
“It’s a good opportunity to have another look at them in a different environment. I had said when we returned from Zambia that some of the players raised their hands and could be rewarded with a call-up and I feel this is a good game to have them in the squad. They all deserve to be here because they did well,” said Igesund.
“We have more local-based players which stands us good stead for the upcoming Chan tournament that we are hosting.”
The squad will assemble this coming Sunday in the evening and will depart for Durban the following day (August 12).
The first training session will be held in the afternoon at People’s Park, with the second and last one at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday (August 13).
Bafana depart Durban on Thursday (August 15) to prepare for the second match in Johannesburg.
Meanwhile tickets for the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge clash are already on sale.
The tickets are selling for R50 and R100 and can be bought at Computicket, Shoprite, Checkers and Shoprite/Checkers outlets around the country.
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates)
Defenders: Eric Mathoho, Tshepo Masilela (both from Chiefs), Tshepo Gumede (Platinum Stars), Thabo Nthete (Bloemfontein Celtic), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk, Belgium), Bevan Fransman, Innocent Mdledle (both from Supersport United), Buhle Mkwhanazi (Tuks), Thulani Hlatswayo (Ajax Cape Town), Thabo Matlaba (Pirates)
Midfielders: Hlompho Kekana (Sundowns), Dean Furman (Doncaster Rovers, Eng), Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Sphiwe Tshabalala (both from Chiefs), Oupa Manyisa, Thandani Ntshomayelo, Andile Jali, Daine Klate (all from Pirates), Bongani Zungu (Sundowns), Thuso Phala (Supersport), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows)
Strikers: Bernard Parker (Chiefs), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo FF, Sweden), Lebogang Manyama (Ajax), Luyolo Nomandela (Free State Stars)