The Bafana Bafana ‘B’ side has responded well to training ahead of their crucial CHAN qualifier against Angola this coming Saturday, that’s according to stand-in coach Thabo Senong. While senior coach Shakes Mashaba completed his tour of central America unbeaten with a 1-1 draw against Honduras in the early hours of Wednesday, his assistant Senong had jetted back to South Africa to oversee things in the CHAN camp. Senong says: ‘All has been going well in camp. All the players reported in time. In the first day camp we had 27 players. In the first training session on Monday we had 21 players who reported for training. This is the first time we see in the CHAN camp players reporting on time. I must say the cooperation from the coaches has been very good.’
The biennial tournament will be held in Rwanda early next year, and South Africa will want to be a part of it, especially after a less than inspiring display here at home in 2014. Although the squad is made up of mostly inactive players at their clubs, the coach showed no signs of concern that this might be to their detriment: ‘It’s all about passion. It’s our job to psyche these guys up positively. I don’t think it will be a problem. We need to understand the dynamics of the CHAN camp. It falls under the non-FIFA dates and it’s very difficult to get players. We’ve always had to look for quality players that are not really active but can adapt quickly, and I’m glad we’ve managed to do that.’
Although he’s running the camp now, Senong made it very clear that it is on an interim basis and that coach Mashaba is still the boss: ‘Mr Mashaba is still the head coach of this team. Mr Owen Da Gama is still the assistant coach. Myself and Helman Mkhalele will continue to be a part of this team. All the decisions that are taken are made with consultation to the head coach.’ The squad will be trimmed down before the trip to Angola to play the second leg, and the coach stressed that all players still have a chance to fight for places.
The senior team will also play the very same Angola in a 2018 World Cup qualifier next month. The match this Saturday will be played at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg south, with kick off scheduled for 15:00. Tickets are still available at Computicket for R40