New Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, who will be assisted Owen Da Gama and Thabo Senong, wielded the axe as he on Friday, 22 August, announced his 34-man squad for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sudan and Nigeria, according to www.supersports.com.
Only 25 of the 34 selected players will travel to Sudan with the rest joining Bafana Bafana in Cape Town on the squad’s return in preparation for the September 10 date with African champions, Nigeria.
Mashaba lived up to his earlier promise that he would demolish and build from the scratch by leaving out some household names for these two matches.
Players like Thulani Serero, May Mahlangu, Tefu Mashamaite, Tsepo Masilela, Thabo Nthethe, Siphiwe Tshabalala (injured), Bernard Parker, Reneilwe Letsholonyane to name a few were left out while the new man in charge opted for youth in his rebuilding process.
Bafana Bafana will play Sudan in Khartoum on Friday, September 5 and fly back home the following day to continue preparations for the match against Nigeria five days later.
Speaking about his squad for these matches, Mashaba said it was not easy to select the team but added that the focus was on the future.
“It is very interesting to select the national team players, but there is also the difficult side of it, especially at this level where there are several very good players in different positions. There is huge talent in this country.
“I chose a big squad because we are playing two crucial matches in a short space of time and we don’t want to leave anything to chance,” said Mashaba.
“As you can see in terms of age, we would like to align ourselves with the Safa Vision 2022 where South Africa should be among the best on the continent and in the world.
Mashaba whose reign began on July 26 2014 after speculation that Stephen Keshi could be named as the new South African national team coach spoke further about the objectives of the team.
“To reach that target, along the way we will come across several competitions like the 2015 Morocco AFCON, the 2016 Rio Olympics, 2017 Libya AFCON, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, among others.
“It would be great to play in those tournaments hence the young players we have selected as part of a long-term vision,” said the Bafana Bafana mentor.
Mashaba who has had previous stints as national team coach also explained one more criteria for his selection of players.
“But we also looked at current form, and some players are unfortunate not to be part of the squad because they are talented but they don’t have the momentum yet as the league has just started. All we ask for now is support from the public for this project we are working on.”
Below is the team list released by Mashaba on Friday.
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates), Dumisani Msibi (Supersport United)
Defenders: Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk FC, Belgium), Ayabulela Magqwaka (Ajax Cape Town), Sibusiso Khumalo (SuperSport United), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits), Buhlebuyeza Mkhwanazi (Bidvest Wits), Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Midfielders: Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Andile Jali (KV Oostende, Belgium), Dean Furman (Doncaster Rovers, England), Ayanda Patosi (FC Lokeren), Mandla Masango (Kaizer Chiefs), Keagan Dolly (Ajax Cape Town), Kamohelo Mokotjo (FC Twente).
Strikers: Tokelo Rantie (AFC Bournemouth), Bongani Ndulula (AmaZulu), Bonginkosi Ntuli (Mamelodi Sundowns), David Zulu (Chippa United)
Reserves: Darren Keet (KV Kortrijkm, Belgium), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Ntsikelelo Nyauza (Orlando Pirates), Bongani Zungu (Mamelodi Sundowns), Jabulani Shongwe (Bidvest Wits), George Lebese (Kaizer Chiefs), Percy Tau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Nhlakanipho Ntuli (FC Twente), Siyanda Ngubo (North West Shining Stars)
BAFANA TECHNICAL TEAM:
Ephraim Mashaba (Head Coach), Owen Da Gama (1st Assistant Coach), Thabo Senong (2nd Assistant Coach), Lucky Shiburi (Goalkeeper Coach), Dr Thulani Ngwenya (Team Doctor), Nhlanhla Maphanga (Physiotherapist), Kabelo Rangoaga (Fitness Trainer), Sizwe Gcongco (Masseur)