South African football followers should be used to this all too familiar predicament; standing on the brink of yet another failure to qualify for a major international competition, knowing that our fate rests upon us changing our fortunes while also hoping for a downturn in form for other teams in our group and a few others. It was only natural for the announcement of the squad to come with less scepticism as much of the hope has been deflated out of the nation with little to no sign of improvement in the offing from our Commander In Chief. The squad itself has some interesting inclusions and omissions with our midfield offering some exciting combinations that the gaffer can use to inspire the charges to a dominant win over Gambia, who themselves have failed to muster a win and have only scored a single goal in their 4 qualifiers in Group M thus far. South Africa are yet to win a game in the group and now would be the perfect time to show the nation that they are prepared to fight for our national pride and put on the calibre of performance that restores that deflated air of confidence within our senior national football team.
Bafana Bafana Preliminary Squad
|Itumeleng Khune||Kaizer Chiefs FC||28||1, 81m||20 Games, 20 Goals Conceded & 6 Clean Sheets|
|Jackson Mabokgwane||Mpumalanga Black Aces FC||28||1, 75m||11 Games, 11 Goals Conceded & 4 Clean Sheets|
|Brighton Mhlongo||Orlando Pirates FC||25||1, 87m||20 Games, 18 Goals Conceded & 7 Clean Sheets|
|Ramahlwe Mphahlele||Mamelodi Sundowns FC||RB/CB||26||1, 76m||24 Games, 2 Assists & 2 Yellow Cards|
|Thabo Matlaba||Orlando Pirates FC||RB/LB||28||1, 69m||26 Games, 3 Goals, 3 Assist & 6 Yellow Cards|
|Diamond Thopola||Chippa United FC||RB/LB||26||27 Games, 1 Assist & 6 Yellow Cards|
|Mulomowandau Mathoho||Kaizer Chiefs FC||CB||26||1, 90m||34 Games, 5 Goals & 6 Yellow Cards|
|Rivaldo Coetzee||Ajax Cape Town FC||CB||19||1, 79m||31 Games & 5 Yellow Cards|
|Teboho Langerman||Mamelodi Sundowns FC||LB/LW/DM||30||1, 80m||32 Games, 2 Goals, 4 Assists & 5 Yellow Cards|
|Sifiso Hlanti||BidVest Wits FC||LB||26||1, 81m||12 Games, 1 Goal, 1 Assist & 1 Yellow Card|
|Hlompho Kekana||Mamelodi Sundowns FC||DM||30||1, 76m||37 Games, 8 Goals, 2 Assists, 6 Yellow Cards & 1 Double Yellow/Red|
|Andile Jali||KV Oostende||DM/DLP||26||1, 72m||35 Games, 1 Goal, 2 Assists & 3 Yellow Cards|
|Dean Furman||SuperSport United FC||DM/DLP||27||1, 83m||26 Games, 1 Goal, 8 Yellow Cards & 1 Double Yellow/Red|
|May Mahlangu||Sint-Truidense VV||DLP/AM/AP (L/R/C)||27||1, 73m||19 Games, 2 Goals & 1 Yellow Card|
|Mpho Makola||Orlando Pirates FC||AM/AP(L/R/C)||30||1, 70m||27 Games, 7 Goals, 2 Assists & 3 Yellow Cards|
|Thulani Serero||AFC Ajax||DLP/AM/AP (L/R/C)||26||1, 64m||22 Games, 1 Goal, 1 Yellow Card|
|Mandla Masango||Randers FC||AM/AP(L/R/C)||26||1, 70m||27 Games, 5 Goals & 2 Yellow Cards|
|Thapelo Morena||Bloemfontein Celtic FC||AM/AP/AF/CF (L/R/C)||22||1, 70m||29 Games, 6 Goals, 1 Assist|
|Keagan Dolly||Mamelodi Sundowns FC||AM/AP(L/R/C)||23||1, 70m||37 Games, 7 Goals, 7 Assists & 4 Yellow Cards|
|Sibusiso Vilakazi||BidVest Wits FC||AM/AP/AF/DLF||26||1, 70m||28 Games, 8 Goals, 3 Assists & 1 Yellow Card|
|Thamsanqa Gabuza||Orlando Pirates FC||28||1, 83m||18 Games, 2 Goals, 2 Assists & 3 Yellow Cards|
|Ndumiso Mabena||Platinum Stars FC||29||1, 80m||25 Games, 10 Goals, 3 Assists, 2 Yellow Cards & 2 Red Cards|
|Thobani Mncwango||Polokwane City FC||28||1, 80m||29 Games, 12 Goals, 1 Assist & 1 Yellow Card|
South Africa vs Gambia 2017 African Cup of Nations Qualifier
Date: Saturday June 4th, 2016
Venue: Independence Stadium, Bakau; Gambia
The Grandstand View
The return of Ramahlwe Mphahlele will be a welcome one for many fans and players alike, Rama is arguably the best natural right full back in the Bafana fold and this window of opportunity is one the Mamelodi Sundowns skipper needs to grasp as he seeks to stake his claim for the starting role moving forward. A consistent defence offers our team a solid foundation that allows us to play more adventurously in attacking positions with the knowledge that the defensive unit is cohesive enough to deal with threats posed on the counter-attack.
Bafana Bafana are gifted with many talented midfield players that can be said to have underperformed collectively in the Green & Gold; the recall of May Mahlangu could inspire a change of fortunes within the current setup, May has matured enough to conduct that orchestra and follow-up those glimpses of brilliance he showed previously. Keagan Dolly is another marvellous talent that has been on the fringes of the senior national team setup for a while and his brilliant performances at club and junior international level have forced him into the fray and presented us with an opportunity to try some new combinations in our midfield. A naturally left-sided player has been much needed for Bafana Bafana, we can now have a far more balanced midfield that can pose more dynamic treats to the opposition and offer us more goal threats.
Regardless of how long the odds are, we have to have faith in what we can control while praying for fate to turn in our favour; a win against Gambia is essential as it gives us the morale boost we need going into the final group match against Mauritania, where another win could have us reaching for our calculators and abacuses while glancing at the permutations.