Igesund’s moment of truth has come
"You're waiting for your name to be called, you body shaking in disbelief. Cause you never ever, waited for it before"…so goes a classic song by South African legendary group Sankomota.
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund will bring South Africa to a standstill on Thursday as he announces his first ever national squad since taking over the reins from the sacked Pitso Mosimane. Bafana are set to play Brazil on September 7 and Mozambique four days later.
The Premier Soccer League season is just two games old and the MTN8 has been explosive. Players have raised their hands for Igesund to pick them. In the buses, trains, taverns and other gathering areas, football fans have already started throwing in names of some of the outstanding performers who deserve a look in.
The goalkeeping department is likely to remain as it was, with Itumeleng Khune and Moeneeb Josephs. The latter was talked out of retirement by Igesund after the goalkeeper had his decided to hang up his national gloves for ‘personal reasons’.
In defence some new faces are expected, especially with Morgan Gould and Tsepo Masilela injured. The left-back position has proved to be troublesome for Bafana coaches but, as things stand right now, Gordon will be happy with the depth that he has. Orlando Pirates’ roving full-back, Thabo Matlaba, has been a standout and surely deserves a chance to prove himself at national level.
Bevan Fransman, who returned to the country from Israel, has stood out in SuperSport United defence, guiding them all the way to the MTN8 final. United conceded just two goals so far in the five games, one in the in the MTN8 and the other in the league. With the Bafana regular Morgan Gould out of action for six months, Fransman has stood head and shoulders above the rest to get a recall.
Ayanda Gcaba, who joined Pirates from Free State Stars, is in a great position for a call as coverup for Anele Ngconga. Another Bafana regular, Siboniso Gaxa, is yet to find his feet at Kaizer Chiefs since returning from Belgium to join Amakhosi. Gcaba is another full-back who is very good both defensively and going forward.
In midfield, Thanduyise Khuboni is likely to get the axe, making way for the hard-working Manti Moholo. The new Orlando Pirates acquisition has been exceptional in the holding midfield role. Unlike Khuboni he is not just a great defensive player but also contributes more in attack and he is not shy to take shots.
Lerato Chabangu, whose recent form has got tongues wagging has done everything right so far to don the Bafana Bafana jersey yet again. The midfielder single-handly destroyed Mamelodi Sundowns in the two legs of the MTN8. His vision, precision and runs on and off the ball have been amazing.
Igesund has often spoken about having a Plan B to make the team unpredictable, thus, adding some width in the team, which is employing wingers. When you talk about wing play in South Africa it will be taboo not to mention Daine Klate, the Pirates speedster is not only a good crosser of the ball but also has the ability to score brilliant goals.
Franklin Cale is another outstanding performer in that position. He has the speed and a deadly shot from his left foot. The SuperSport man is not afraid to take on players and fire at goal. Tlou Segolela hasn’t been much of a starter but has shown some signs of brilliance each time he comes on. When Brazil is worn out it would ideal to bring a player of caliber to have a go at their defence.
Also with an outside chance for a callup is Bennett Chenene. The Moroka Swallows man has been key in driving the Birds to the MTN8 final and it would make sense to give him a chance, especially with Siyabonga Nomvethe likely to get a call. That would mean the veteran striker will have somebody who knows him and his runs very well since there are teammates at club level.
Up front Benni McCarthy has been scoring some crucial goals for Orlando Pirates where he has done the job of a target man with distinction. The bulky striker holds the ball very well to bring midfielders into play. The latter is out through injury which makes Benni ideal.
Despite his four goals against the beleaguered AmaZulu, Bernard Parker is yet to live up to the form he showed during the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup. However, a second chance in Bafana could prove to be a good move for Igesund as the striker is still brimming with confidence after the Usuthu game, in which he didn’t just bang in goals but also set up Siyabonga Nkosi.
Black Leopards’ Rodney Ramagalela, who has two goals in two league games, has been another good performer. The striker is brilliant both in the air and on the ground. Above all he has some great runs on as well as off the ball. His pace can prove fruitful against a very slow Brazilian defence.
Tokelo Ranti, who scored in the last game for Bafana, has been enjoying life in Sweden, scoring four goals in two games for the club after netting a hat-trick on debut in a cup game last week. He is definitely one for the future and, having played with Benni at Pirates, he could prove to a handful for Brazil when he plays off the Bucs big man again.
Since Bafana will have two back-to-back friendlies in four days, Igesund is likely to have up to 30 players in camp. Below is how I think the team would look.
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Moeneeb Josephs
Defenders: Siyabonga Sangweni, Anele Ngcongca, Thabo Matlaba, Ayanda Gcaba, Eric Mathoho,
Bevan Fransman, Punch Masenamela, Bongani Khumalo
Midfielders: Teko Modise, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Lerato Chabangu, Manti Moholo, Oupa Manyisa,
May Mahlangu, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Steven Pienaar, Kagiso Dikgacoi, Daine Klate,
Tlou Segolela, Franklin Cale, Bennet Chenene, Andile Jali
Stikers: Benni McCarthy, Siyabonga Nomvethe, Bernard Parker, Rodney Ramagalela, Tokelo Ranti, Edward Manqele
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