NEW BOYS GET A CHANCE TO SHINE
Only local players will face Ivory Coast in Mandela Challenge
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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