There is no doubt that the first name on the team sheet for the upcoming AFCON qualifier against Sudan would have been that of Senzo Meyiwa. So now that that is not possible anymore, coach Shakes Mashaba has to look elsewhere for a fitting replacement for the late first choice keeper. I took some time to look at who the coach might put his trust in, not only in the squad, but also the man who might get the nod come the 15th in Durban.
Ordinarily, the automatic replacement for Meyiwa would have been Itumeleng Khune, but the Kaizer Chiefs captain is still nursing an injury, which makes him unavailable for selection. Darren Keet, who plies his trade in Belgium for KV Kortrijk, has been waiting patiently in the wings in the Bafana setup while learning from both Khune and Meyiwa. He will definitely be hoping his time has come to cement his place between the sticks.
The 25-year old was very impressive at Bidvest Wits a few seasons ago and was already third in the pecking order in the national team before even making his way to Europe. Some people would argue that it would only be fair to give him the nod. One other keeper who Mashaba has been grooming in the team of late is Amajita and Supersport United shotstopper Dumisani Msibi.
Now Msibi is probably still going to be in the squad, but his lack of experience makes it almost impossible for him to start a game at this stage, but knowing coach Shakes Mashaba, anything is possible, after all he did start a 17-year old against Congo. There are other goalkeepers that could be eyeing a spot in the Bafana team that have been doing well for the respective teams. For me Brilliant Khuzwayo has been a more that capable deputy for Khune at Chiefs, conceding only one goal since being handed the gloves at Naturena.
He has done exceptionally well, keeping Reyard Pieterse on the the bench most of the time. I think he at least deserves a place in the 23-man army. Siyabonga Mpontshane of Platinum Stars has been knocking on the door for a while now, despite his team not doing that well this season. What could also count in his favour is the fact that Shakes Mashaba is not a man that is fazed by big names from the so-called big teams, so a player that wouldn’t even have had a look-in previously now has an opportunity to grab the eye of the coach.
Mpontshane was a vital cog in the Dikwena team that won a double last season, even becoming a hero in one of the finals against Orlando Pirates in a penalty shootout. So he is a proven shot stopper that can be given a chance. If the coach is looking for someone who is more experienced at international level, and is not willing to experiment with such crucial games remaining in this qualifying campaign, then he can go to a guy like Moeneeb Josephs.
‘Slimkat’ has played at the highest level in South Africa for a long time, and was the trustee at Pirates when they won the trebles, the first keeper to win a treble of trophies in the PSL era. Josephs was also in the national team for many years, but had to play second fiddle to guys like Khune, and previously Rowen Fernandez. So perhaps this is this is the time to shake off that CHAN embarrassment by the minister.
These are some of the options at Mashaba’s disposal, and although it will be a tough one for the coach and whoever will be chosen as the last line of defence and take the team forward, I’m certain that they will do a fair job as the new Bafana goalminder. One thing South Africans can take heart from is that we have never had a problem in the goalkeeping department. From the days of Andre Arendse, Hans Vonk and Brian Baloyi, to Rowen Fernandez, Calvin Marlin, Wayne Sandilands, Shuaib Walters, Khune and Meyiwa.
We have always been blessed with abundant talent. But we all agree that there are some huge gloves to fill up for grabs.