13 July 2017 – Bafana Bafana midfielder Lehlogonolo Masalesa has been withdrawn from the squad to face Botswana in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers.
Masalesa was initially not available for the clash as he was contracted to an overseas club but he has since been released from the contract and become available to play in the CHAN qualifiers – but the rules of the tournament state that only players plying their trade in the domestic league are eligible to play. With Masalesa not on the books of any local club, he is unable to be part of the Bafana Bafana squad.
“It’s has been an unfortunate process but we needed to confirm that he is eligible. Masalesa does not have a local address in terms of club affiliation, so it’s a blow because we had him in the starting line up and we will have to change the shape and the way we play. I was up all night last night talking to a few coaches and Pitso Mosimane has come to our rescue and he will give us midfielder Sibusiso Khumalo. So at the moment we are in the process of trying to get him on board,” said Bafana Bafana Bafana Head coach Stuart Baxter at the squad’s final training session before departing for Botswana in the afternoon.
“We are just hoping that we don’t lose other players either to injury or to being recalled by their clubs because it has been difficult getting players for COSAFA CUP and CHAN, and it makes it almost impossible to make proper preparations.”
The inclusion of Khumalo brings to 15 the new players called up to the CHAN squad, leaving just eight that was in the COSAFA Castle Cup team.
Defender Mario Booysen will wear the captain’s armband in the absence of Masalesa.
Together with Masalesa, Booysen played every minute of every game in the COSAFA Castle Cup.
“Apart from Masalesa, Mario has been the one to take responsibility on his shoulders and tried to talk, help out the other boys. He also has a bit more experience than most, and he is a Centre back, I like defenders to be captains, I don’t like wingers or forwards because they are usually concentrated on their own role, they don’t like to help much,” added Baxter.
Bafana Bafana depart for Botswana this afternoon (13 July 2017).
They face the Zebras on Saturday, 15 July 2017 at the Francistown Stadium in Botswana at 15h00.
The second leg will be played a week later, Saturday, 22 July at the Moruleng Stadium in the North West.
The CHAN tournament will be hosted by Kenya and will take place from 11 January to 2 February 2018.
(update Bafana Bafana squad below)
BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD FOR CHAN
|1.||Boalefa PULE||Supersport United FC|
|2.||Steven HOFFMAN||Platinum Stars FC|
|3.||Khulekani KUBHEKA||Mamelodi Sundowns FC|
|4.||Siyabonga NHLAPO||Bidvest Wits FC|
|5.||Malebogo MODISE||Mamelodi Sundowns FC|
|6.||Siphiwe MNGUNI||Platinum Stars FC|
|7.||Junaid SAIT||Stellenbosch FC|
|8.||Sandile MTHETHWA||Orlando Pirates FC|
|9.||Mothobi MVALA||Highlands Park FC|
|10.||Mario BOOYSEN||Supersport United FC|
|11.||Tercious MALEPE||Orlando Pirates FC|
|12.||Cole ALEXANDER||Supersport United FC|
|13.||Sibusiso KHUMALO||Mamelodi Sundowns|
|14.||Riyaad NORODIEN||Orlando Pirates FC|
|15.||Jamie WEBBER||Stellenbosch FC|
|16.||Sphelele NTSHANGASE||Black Leopards FC|
|17.||Dumisani ZUMA||Bloemfontein Celtic FC|
|18.||Ricardo LOURENCO||Orlando Pirates FC|
|19.||Teboho MOKOENA||Supersport United FC|
|20.||Sipho MBULE||Mamelodi Sundowns FC|
|21.||Bongani NTULI||Mamelodi Sundowns FC|
|22.||Ryan MOON||Kaizer Chiefs FC|
|23.||Gift MOTUPA||Baroka FC|