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A new era for Bafana Bafana, says Da Gama

Bafana

DURBAN – Despite the lack of clarity over midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo’s availability, and the match-fixing allegations surrounding a Fifa World Cup qualifier, Bafana Bafana are ready to open a new chapter when they meet Guinea-Bissau in a friendly match at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.

This is the start of a “new era”, declared caretaker coach Owen da Gama.

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Phakamani Mahlambi (left) chats with Kermit Erasmus during the Bafana camp in Durban this week. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePixLuther Singh could make his senior international debut for South Africa. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePixKaizer Chiefs defender Lorenzo Gordinho is in line to make his Bafana debut. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

The side issues of Mokotjo’s eligibility and the question marks over South Africa’s 2-1 World Cup group qualifier victory over Senegal last year are administrative matters that won’t have a bearing on preparations for the Durban outing, and Tuesday night’s friendly against Angola in East London.

World governing body Fifa this week banned Ghanaian referee Joseph Odartei Lamptey for life after he was found guilty of unlawfully influencing match results during the 2018 World Cup qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal.

“We are focusing on these two games at hand, and that’s the most important thing. Administrative things that happen off the field we don’t focus on, whether it is the weather conditions or the flying time,” said Da Gama when asked if allegations of match-fixing surrounding the November win over Senegal had affected preparations.

“That is an administrative question. Whatever happens, happens. We don’t want any distractions, so we didn’t even discuss it with the players.”

As for Mokotjo, his acquisition of Dutch citizenship last year cast doubts over his eligibility to represent South Africa again.

The Netherlands-based midfielder retired from international football after a fallout with former coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba, but recently expressed his desire to be reconsidered.

On Thursday night, the South African Football Association received an assurance from the Department of Home Affairs that Netherlands-based Mokotjo should be eligible to resume his South African citizenship.

The midfielder gave up his citizenship when he acquired Dutch papers. However, he expressed his desire to rejoin the national squad and went through the administrative process of writing a motivation to the department to resume South African nationality.

A statement from the department said Mokotjo’s documents should be in order by the close of business on Friday.

Mokotjo, 26, has been playing in Holland since he transferred to Feyenoord as an 18-year-old from local side SuperSport United. He turns out for FC Twente as a holding midfielder.

Regardless, Da Gama was upbeat about the national team’s prospects and promised to give a run to several players who were called to the camp for the first time. Among them are strikers Phakamani Mahlambi and Luther Singh, and defender Lorenzo Gordinho.

Luther Singh could make his senior international debut for South Africa. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix


The attacking duo helped South Africa qualify for the Fifa Under-20 World Cup recently and represent the new generation that Da Gama is keen to expose in the senior set-up.

“It’s a new era. I’m here for these two games. A new coach will come in and it will be a new era for moving forward. There are so many other players that are waiting to come into the fold.

“Bongani Zungu in Portugal is one of them, so the competition is very high, and the door is wide open for everyone. No doubt, the youngsters will get a run,” promised Da Gama.

Whether it’s against the Wild Dogs of Guinea-Bissau on Saturday afternoon or against Angola at the Buffalo City Stadium on Tuesday (7pm), the coach will give everyone a run, but within a solid team structure aimed at winning the games.

The Mercury

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