31 July 2022 — Coach Helman Mkhalele described the three camps he has had with the youthful Bafana Bafana side as fruitful, adding that they enabled him  to lay a foundation for the South African National Under-23 Olympic squad. 

Mkhalele’s remarks came after Bafana Bafana progressed to the second round of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers after beating Comoros 1-0 on aggregate at the Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday. 

The side will now face Angola in the next round, with the first leg scheduled to take place away from home later in August. The return leg is scheduled for early September. 

“These camps were a fruitful exercise as we were able to establish the foundation of our national Under-23 side, as we are in a process of building a team for the upcoming U-23 AFCON qualifiers, while keeping another eye on CHAN,” Mkhalele said. “We were disappointed that we couldn’t defend our COSAFA Cup title, but the lads showed character and the willingness to play as we were able to win the COSAFA Plate title.

“Going into the CHAN qualifiers, we brought in some new faces as some of our players from COSAFA couldn’t progress into the CHAN camp due to injuries,” Mkhalele added. “This also provided us with an opportunity to have a look at other players and what they could offer to the team moving forward. We played four, for example, out of the five players we roped in for our return leg against Comoros and all of them performed really well. These changes in the team expanded the pool of players we know that we can call upon as we progress into the next round of the CHAN qualifiers.”

Meanwhile, Mkhale thanked all the PSL and NFD teams for releasing their players for these three camps, adding that their continued support will be highly appreciated as they take on Angola in the second round of the CHAN Qualifiers.

Angola won 3-0 on aggregate in the first round of the CHAN qualifiers against Mauritius. 

“I would like to thank all the clubs for  availing their players when we started out with these camps,” Mkhalele said. “All of this would have not been possible without their continued support. 

“Our goal now is to qualify for the CHAN tournament and go all the way to win it, too. This can only be done if we get the best possible talent the country can offer, especially starting with these second round CHAN qualifying fixtures against Angola. I know that they are going to come with their best players for this crucial round and we need to match them.”