Bafana Bafana striker Phumelele Bhengu says he is overwhelmed by getting a call up to Bafana Bafana. The Thanda Royal Zulu player in the National First Division (NFD) is part of the 20-man squad that has been called up by head coach Shakes Mashaba to play in the COSAFA Cup tournament which gets underway from 17 – 30 May in the North West province. Bhengu says: ‘It’s a very good feeling. Yes, I was once in the junior national teams a long time ago, but to be here at Bafana Bafana is a great feeling. It shows that I have been doing something right that is why I am here today. I have been doing what is expected of me and that is to score goals.’
The lethal striker is the current top goal scorer in the NFD with 22 goals to his name, but feels no pressure to perform at national team level. He says: ‘I am under no pressure because at this level they call the cream of the crop, so as a striker there will be plenty of chances created. I am happy to be part of this squad and need to utilise this opportunity. This is like a dream come true. From where I am standing, I don’t think there is anything that will stop me from climbing the ladder, but I need to keep on working hard, stay humble and focussed – but most importantly keep on banging in those goals. I haven’t played against Botswana since the junior national teams but preparations are going well so we should do well.’ Bhengu is one of the players to report for national team duty on Monday evening (11 May) along with Thamsanqa Sangweni from Chippa United – both missed the first day’s training sessions.
Also arriving in camp was the Supersport United duo of Mondli Mpoto and Athenkosi Dlala, as well as Kwanda Mngonyama and Thapelo Morena to complete the 20 players in camp. However, Sibusiso Khumalo and Puleng Tlolane missed training on Tuesday morning. Khumalo was down with a bout of flu and could not recover for the second session. Tlolane travelled to Polokwane to collect his passport and was able to join his compatriots at training in the afternoon.
South Africa opens its COSAFA Cup campaign with a clash against Botswana in the quarter-final of the competition. The match takes place on Sunday, 24 May at Moruleng Stadium in the North West Province. Kick-off is at 17:30.