Johannesburg - Shakes Mashaba will be hoping Mandla Masango brings his Kaizer Chiefs club form into the national team as Bafana Bafana look to begin their Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on a winning note.
Masango was once again on the score-sheet as Chiefs stretched their 2014/2015 Absa Premiership winning run to five matches out of five with a 2-0 victory over SuperSport United at FNB Stadium on Saturday night.
Enjoying arguably the best form of his career, Masango – who has now scored three league goals – has forced his way into the national squad and will look to finally fulfil the potential he showed when he first came into the limelight as a budding star seven seasons ago.
It might take some doing, though, given the huge gap between local and international football. And Sudan, whom Bafana play at the weekend in Khartoum, will be a different proposition to a SuperSport side that were under the guidance of stand-in-coach Kaitano Tembo following the sacking midweek of Cavin Johnson.
Masango opened the scoring for Chiefs just after the hour-mark before Kingston Nkhatha added a second to see Amakhosi go into the two-week international football break top of the table with a maximum 15 points.
Besides the goal, the former junior international, who has expressed his desire to finally make the jump up to the senior level, was a general nuisance to the SuperSport rearguard, even having a penalty call turned down as early as the third minute.
He also had a chance to score on 54 minutes but shot tamely at Ronwen Williams before creating a great chance for Reneilwe Letsholonyane before scoring himself.
A goal in Sudan and Masango might well put paid to the generally held notion that he has no staying power as proven by his previous flying starts to seasons only to fade later.
At Chiefs, though, he has already impressed, leaving coach Stuart Baxter a contented man as the season goes into recess for a fortnight.
“It’s good we’re going to have a decent break and I’m happy because it will give some of the players who have started in most of the matches a good rest,” said Baxter at the end of Saturday’s match which saw Chiefs turn on the heat after half-time following an uncharacteristically poor first half.
“I am pleased with the result and the second half,” said the ex-Bafana coach.
“We were poor in the first half, extremely naïve in attack. But in the second half we played better and were much braver with the ball, we made some brave movements and we had about seven chances.”
Baxter acknowledged that given their good form, their opponents will come into matches keen to minimise damage instead of playing open football.
“That’s how it is but we need to be able to attack teams when they park the bus.”
While SuperSport did not really park the bus, they hardly ventured forward and were content to contain Chiefs – Tembo, incredibly, speaking of his side’s poor fitness levels.
SuperSport said they will meet today to discuss a replacement for Johnson and, whoever it is – Gordon Igesund is touted as the new man – will at least have two weeks to familiarise himself with the team before the next match.