Mkhalele to tweak Bafana line-up for Botswana match

ASANELE Velebayi playing for Bafana Bafana in the Cosafa Cup match against Mozambique. BackpagePix

ASANELE Velebayi playing for Bafana Bafana in the Cosafa Cup match against Mozambique. BackpagePix

Published Jun 29, 2024


BAFANA Bafana’s stand-in head coach Helman Mkhalele says he will not look to make wholesale changes to his line-up ahead of their second Cosafa Cup group game.

The South African national men’s side lock horns with neighbours Botswana at the Wolfson Stadium in Gqeberha today (3pm kick-off) in search of their first win of the tournament.

Mkhalele’s youthful group surrendered a lead against Mozambique in their opening game and left group A wide open with the Zebras and Eswatini also on a point each.

Bafana are chasing a sixth Cosafa Cup crown and are again placed in the perfect position to do so seeing that they are the hosts once more.

Following the inconsistent nature of their performance against the Black Mambas, Mkhalele was expected to make relative alterations to his starting XI in search of the right combinations.

However, the 54-year-old tactician said that this was not going to be the case, and that he and his technical team would probably look to retain the majority of the group that started last time out.

Mkhalele added that a deep analysis of their next opponents would dictate their approach and tactics for the Botswana encounter.

“Once we study the opponents, that will inform us what type of players we need to bring in. At the same time, we want to make sure that we keep the same momentum,” he said.

“I’m not saying we are going to change or not. As we go into the next game, we will try to first and foremost look at how we can sustain the momentum that we have.

“Probably 70 percent of the players who started against Mozambique might play again because of the match conditioning that they have gained.

“Then, gradually, we will bring in those who have not had game time.

“For us to change the whole team at once, trying to give everybody an opportunity to get international experience, can be suicidal because we want to go further in the tournament.”

Botswana coach Didier Gomes Da Rosa will probably be aware of his side’s limitations against the much more fancied South Africans, even though the hosts’ squad is made up of fringe players.

The Zebras have not beaten Bafana in any match since 2008. During that period, the sides have met 16 times in various tournaments and friendlies, Bafana enjoying 12 victories with four ending in draws.

The last time the two nations met was in this competition last year when goals from Shawn Mogaila and Iqraam Rayners helped Bafana claim a 2-1 win in Durban.

This time, Mkhalele will have to use the explosive power of SuperSport United’s Thabang Sibanyoni or the dribbling ability of Cape Town Spurs’ Asanele Velebayi to try and boost their chances of making the quarter-finals.

In the other Group A match today, Mozambique play Eswatini at 12pm.

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