“Thato Mokeke has been in the game for a very long time,” said Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

While Keagan Dolly and Eric Mathoho were the two big names back in the Bafana Bafana set-up, it appears as if Thato Mokeke has impressed interim coach Molefi Ntseki the most.

The Cape Town City star was named alongside his club captain Thamsanqa Mkhize and striker Kermit Erasmus in the South African squad on Friday for the international against Zambia in Lusaka on 7 September.

For years, it was felt in Cape football circles that top local players were often overlooked for Bafana squads.

But that trend seems to be changing in recent seasons, and now someone like Mokeke has benefited from the more widespread selection policy.

The 30-year-old first established himself at Ajax Cape Town, before moving on to SuperSport United.

Mokeke, who has four Bafana caps, had been on loan to Cape Town City before, and had a stint with Chippa United last season.

He seems happy to be back in his home town, though, and it has paid off under Benni McCarthy’s watch.

“I’ve had a chat with Benni. We met at the game between Sundowns and Cape Town City.

“I made it clear to him and explained to him why I have Thato Mokeke as a defender, but he has been doing well as a midfielder,” Ntseki – who has taken over from Stuart Baxter – said at a press conference in Johannesburg on Friday.

“Thato Mokeke has been in the game for a very long time. He played at left back for Ajax.

“He went to SuperSport and played at left back also, and also at left centre-back. Now he’s doing very well for Cape Town City as a midfielder. He is a very gifted left-footed player.”

Another former Cape-based player, Rivaldo Coetzee, has also been recalled to the national team.

“I was also impressed with the way he played against Cape Town City on Tuesday,” said Molefi Ntseki on Rivaldo Coetzee. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
“I was also impressed with the way he played against Cape Town City on Tuesday,” said Molefi Ntseki on Rivaldo Coetzee. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

He missed out on the Africa Cup of Nations after leaving the Bafana camp before the tournament to visit his sick mother in Kakamas in the Northern Cape.

But now Coetzee has caught Ntseki’s eye at Mamelodi Sundowns.

“Towards the end of the year, we profiled Rivaldo and wanted to bring him into Bafana Bafana as a defender,” the interim coach said.

“But in the past few matches, he has been doing well as a midfielder. I was also impressed with the way he played against Cape Town City on Tuesday.”

Bafana Bafana Squad

Goalkeepers: Darren Keet (OH Leuven FC, Belgium), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Brandon Petersen (Wits).

Defenders: Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo (both Wits), Thapelo Morena (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thamsanqa Mkhize, Thato Mokeke (both Cape Town City), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates).

Midfielders: Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford FC, England), Rivaldo Coetzee, Lebogang Maboe (both Sundowns), Dean Furman (SuperSport), Lebogang Phiri (Guingamp FC, France), Bongani Zungu (Amiens, France), Thembinkosi Lorch (Pirates), Thulani Serero (Vitesse Arnhem, Netherlands), Percy Tau (Club Brugge, Belgium), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France).

Strikers: Lebo Mothiba (Strasbourg, France), Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United), Kermit Erasmus (Cape Town City). 

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