NEW BOYS GET A CHANCE TO SHINE

Only lo­cal play­ers will face Ivory Coast in Man­dela Chal­lenge

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - SAPA

NY­ONE an­tic­i­pat­ing watch­ing two starstud­ded line-ups when Bafana Bafana en­ter­tain the Ivory Coast in the an­nual Nel­son Man­dela Chal­lenge game at the Mbombela Sta­dium on Sun­day will be sadly dis­ap­pointed.

The 23-man Bafana squad, named by coach Shakes Mashaba yes­ter­day, con­sists en­tirely of play­ers based in the lo­cal Premier League.

The an­nounce­ment was marred by a late start of 75 min­utes, with the me­dia on the verge of stag­ing a walk-out just as the foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion’s or­gan­is­ers fi­nally ar­rived amid fran­tic apolo­gies.

“It was due to late prob­lems beyond our con­trol and will not hap­pen again,” said Safa CEO Den­nis Mum­ble.

As Sun­day’s game is be­ing staged out­side of an in­ter­na­tional Fifa win­dow, Ivory Coast, whose firstchoice line-up is made up almost en­tirely of for­eign­based play­ers, will also not in­clude in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed stars of the cal­i­bre of Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Si­aka Tiene, Salomon Kalou and Gerv­inho.

Mashaba has also cho­sen to “rest” a num­ber of prom­i­nent lo­cal play­ers who ap­peared in Af­con qual­i­fy­ing games.

De­spite this, Safa pres­i­dent Danny Jor­daan said the im­por­tance of the game should not be min­imised, with the Ivory Coast renowned for their player depth.

The ab­sence of over­seas-based play­ers would pro­vide those who have been se­lected from the PSL to fur­ther their claims for se­lec­tion ahead of the Af­con tour­na­ment early in the new year.

“This will be a golden op­por­tu­nity for them to shine and we are cer­tainly not tak­ing the fix­ture lightly,” Mashaba said.

“It is im­por­tant for Bafana to main­tain mo­men­tum after the pleas­ing re­sults in the Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fiers and notch up another morale­boost­ing suc­cess.

He said the Bafana squad was de­signed to come away with a vic­tory and as­sist in team-build­ing for the fu­ture, but would also in­clude a num­ber of top­class play­ers who had not ap­peared reg­u­larly for their clubs in re­cent Premier League games.

“This will give them the op­por­tu­nity to show what they can still pro­duce.”

Ab­sen­tees from the squad are almost all the can­di­dates from Su­perS­port United and Plat­inum Stars, who will be play­ing in the Telkom Cup Knock­out Fi­nal on Satur­day, with only Su­perS­port re­serve goal­keeper Du­misani Msibi named in the 23.

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PIC­TURE: GALLO IMAGES

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