Bafana Bafana have started preparations for the COSAFA Cup competition and had their first training session on Monday at the AW Muller Stadium at the University of Johannesburg. Six players – Mondli Mpoto and Athenkosi Dlala (both from SuperSport); Kwanda Mngonyama (Maritzburg United); Thapelo Morena (Bloemfontein Celtic); Thamsanqa Sangweni (Chippa United) and Phumelele Bhengu – missed the morning training session. Coach Shakes Mashaba says: ‘First day of training is normally a big challenge, more so because the season has just come to an end. Some of the players would first like to travel home and spend some time with their families before reporting for national team duty. That is normal and understandable. As for Dlala and Mpoto, they are still in school so we are trying to find a balance so they don’t suffer on their schoolwork. They both recently were with the Under-17 squad and lost a great bit of time of school.’
The Bafana Bafana mentor said it was important for him and his technical team not to go for the tried and tested players for the COSAFA Cup but give a new group an opportunity: ‘We have other leagues in this country and we have said if you have a SA ID book then you qualify to play for Bafana Bafana. We have to give other players a chance because if you look at the National First Division there is so much untapped talent there, and at the same time it gives us an opportunity to widen our pool of players. I am hopeful that three or four players will graduate from this squad into the one that will play the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. The main reason is that we have a busy schedule with the COSAFA CUP now, then the AFCON 2015 qualifiers and the CHAN 2016 qualifiers. It is important that we pick different players and hope that some of them graduate with us to the qualifiers so we don’t make too many changes going forward.’ Meanwhile Daniel Cardoso (Free State Stars) and Mzikayise Mashaba (Mamelodi Sundowns) have not been registered for the COSAFA CUP tournament due to injuries and will not form part of the COSAFA CUP squad that takes place from 17 – 30 May. Only 20 players are needed for the tournament.
South Africa will face Botswana in the quarter-final of the competition on Sunday, 24 May at the Moruleng Stadium in the North West Province. Kick-off is at 17:30. On Wednesday, 13 May Bafana Bafana travels to Lesotho to play two training matches against the host nation on Thursday, 14 May and Saturday, 16 May.
South Africa is also scheduled to face Malawi in another training match on Friday, 22 May in Rustenburg.
Photo credit: Sabelo Mngoma/BackpagePix