New Bafana Bafana coach, Shakes Mashaba is adamant that his new 24-men squad is ready to go against Sudan, in this Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier match.
Among his squad, there is a number of players he had to leave out due to injuries. Kaizer Chiefs captain and Bafana first choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune are among those who won’t go to Sudan for the game on Friday.
Khune who is also the team’s captain is believed to be suffering from a Grade 3 bone fracture on his foot. The injury will deny him six weeks of playing. Belgium-based attack midfielder Ayanda Patosi also failed to catch his flight from Belgium to Sudan so he couldn’t make it to join the team on Wednesday. Kickoff online has reported that Mashaba stopped Patosi when he wanted to pay for another flight.
On an away game with an almost totally new Bafana Bafana team, Mashaba will face a challenge playing against the Sudan national team. Mashaba has brought in a lot of inexperienced youngsters in the senior squad who he believes will do a great job on Friday. One of the youngsters called up was Kakamas-born Ajax Cape Town defender, Rivaldo Coetzee.
Friday’s game will be Mashaba’s first match as Bafana coach since his appointment in July. Shakes has had to deal with criticism from sport journalists on numerous occasions. Some said they would have loved to have a non-South African coach.
Despite the criticism, Mashaba is positive with his choice of players and maintains the fact that they are ready to play the AFCON qualifiers. Mashaba told the media on Monday that he is happy with his squad selection and their trip to Sudan was a very crucial one.
“I’m happy with this group of players I am travelling with. We are going there to fight, make no mistake, ” he told reporters.
The South African footballing front will be looking up on Shakes as Bafana had a really bad AFCON qualifier campaign in 2012. Bafana has its plate full in its first Group A AFCON qualifier game on Friday. The group will see them playing other tough African countries like Nigeria and Congo.
Bafana is playing Sudan for the first time in a senior competition, and surely the Sudanese team will not be a pushover especially on their home soil. The game will be played in Omdurman at the El Merreikh Stadium. Bafana’s next game of their AFCON qualifiers campaign is on the 10th of September against Nigeria at Cape Town Stadium.