Stand-in Bafana Bafana head coach Owen da Gama has announced a 25-man squad to play against Guinea-Bissau and Angola in back-to-back friendly international matches.
In the first fixture, South Africa will take on African Wild Dogs (Guinea-Bissau) on Saturday, 25 March 2017 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Kickoff is at 15h00.
Bafana Bafana will then face the Palacas Negras (Angola) in the second fixture which will be played on Tuesday, 28 March 2017 at a venue to be confirmed.
Da Gama has named three debutants, Lorenzo Gordinho (Kaizer Chiefs), Phakamani Mahlambi (Bidvest Wits) and Luther Singh (SC Braga, Portugal).
There is also a recall for Kamohelo Mokotjo (FC Twente, Netherlands) and Kermit Erasmus (Lens, France), while goalkeepers Shuaib Walters (Cape Town City) and Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits) and striker Lebohang Manyama (Cape Town City) also make a return after a long absence.
“It is important to give as many players a chance as possible. The national team hasn’t been active since November in 2016 – that’s a six month break – so our mission is to prepare a team that will tackle the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFCON qualfiers. We want to assemble the best possible squad and create a healthy, competitive spirit within the team,” said Da Gama“I have been put in charge for these two games, and we will give as many players a run so that come the qualifers we are not found wanting.”Mahlambi and Singh are key players in the South African u20 Men’s National Team (Amajita). They have been rewarded for their great performances for both club and country. The duo were instrumental in helping Amajita qualify for the 2017 FIFA u20 World Cup that will be played in South Korea in May.“Vision 2022 is all about having a team ready for the future, and that is why we have mixed experience with youth. It is crucial that we bring in these youngsters as early as now so they can have the experience needed when the time comes. We will monitor them during the camp and see how they cope and will take it from there, but there is a likelyhood that they could feature in one of the matches because we want to see what they can offer when taken to a higher level. For far too long we have always waited for players be 25 and want to introduce them to the senior national team, but that has to change now – we need to expose the vast array of talent we have in our country,” added Da Gama.
Bafana Bafana assemble for camp on Sunday, 19 March in Johannesburg before travelling the next day (Monday, 20 March) to Durban.
South Africa and Guinea-Bissau have never met before, but Bafana Bafana have played 12 times against Angola.
Bafana Bafana has won eight of those encounters, drew three and lost just once. The hosts are 62nd on the FIFA World Rankings, and 13th on the continent, while Guinea-Bissau and Angola are 80th and 19th as well as 148th and 45th respectively.
Full 25-man squad:
Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits), Shuaib Walters (Cape Town City)
Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits), Lorenzo Gordinho (Kaizer Chiefs), Diamond Thopola (Chippa United), Tebogo Langerman (Mamelodi Sundowns), Erick Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs)
Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thabo Mnyamane (SuperSport United), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France), Andile Jali (KV Oostende, Belgium), Kamohelo Mokotjo (FC Twente, Netherlands), Tiyani Mabunda (Mamelodi Sundowns), Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Percy Tau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebogang Manyama (Cape Town City), Phakamani Mahlambi (Bidvest Wits), Lars Veldwijk (KV Kortrijk, Belgium), Kermit Erasmus RC Lens, France), Luther Singh (Sporting Braga, Portugal)