08 October 2019, by: Leonard Solms

Bafana Squad for Mali: Talking Points

New Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki and his players will be raring to go against Mali in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on 13 October in Port Elizabeth.

South Africa saw first Zambia and then Madagascar cancel on them as they attempted to schedule their first friendly under Ntseki during the last international break. Xenophobic attacks in South Africa were the catalyst for the chaos.

Barring last-minute catastrophe, Bafana will finally resume business on 13 October. Much has changed since they lost their Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final against Nigeria 2-1.

We contextualise some of the talking points regarding Ntseki’s second first squad.

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1. Tweaks to squad for Zambia

The two changes from the squad which was supposed to face Zambia see Mosa Lebusa and Themba Zwane come in for Rivaldo Coetzee and Lebohang Maboe.

Lebusa has found his feet at Mamelodi Sundowns slightly over a year on from his move from Ajax Cape Town. The versatile defender has become a regular starter with Coetzee one of the players in contention with him for a position.

Zwane and Maboe, too, are teammates and rivals for a starting spot at Masandawana. The latter has a promising future ahead of him and will almost certainly be back in the squad soon, but Mshishi is the in-form man at the moment.

2. Gloves off in fight for goalkeeping spot

One debate which has not yet been settled is who should be the starting goalkeeper for Bafana Bafana.

Until recently, Itumeleng Khune was almost a guaranteed starter for South Africa. However, the Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper has battled injury and is not in Ntseki’s squad.

It is unclear whether or not Khune will be left out of the fold long term, but both Ronwen Williams and Darren Keet have impressed in his absence.

Williams will likely be the starting goalkeeper at least for the time being but watch this space.

3. Possible return for Romeo

Kermit Erasmus has not featured for Bafana Bafana in nearly two years, but that could be about to change due to his incredible form for Cape Town City.

Erasmus was named in Stuart Baxter’s preliminary squad for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations but failed to make the final cut.

The striker infamously tweeted that he was “no back-up player” when then Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba called on him to replace Tokelo Rantie in 2015 — a request Erasmus snubbed.

He appears to have matured since and taken rejection from the final Afcon squad well. Erasmus already has five Absa Premiership goals for Cape Town City this season.

4. Tower to complete comeback?

Erick Mathoho may finally make his Bafana Bafana return after being called up by Ntseki again. The Kaizer Chiefs centre-back was brought back into the fray to face Zambia after a lengthy absence, but that, of course, did not materialise.

Mathoho has overcome injuries and regained his form for Amakhosi this season and it will likely mean plenty to him if he is rewarded with a spot in the Bafana side.

5. The Lion returns

Fresh off a fine performance in Club Brugge’s 2-2 draw with Real Madrid, Percy Tau returns to South Africa for international duty.

His Bafana Bafana teammates will hope the former Mamelodi Sundowns man can impart his knowledge from new experiences to the rest of the squad.

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