Bongani Zungu admits that it was touch and go as to whether he would be included in the final Bafana Bafana squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
The French-based midfielder was out of action for about seven months, which meant he missed out on game time for his club Amiens in Ligue 1.
He only returned to action in April, having missed out on the Afcon qualifiers and a chance to impress Stuart Baxter.
But the Bafana coach picked the former Mamelodi Sundowns star in the 23-man group, and Zungu hopes to repay the faith in the first practice game against Ghana on Saturday in Dubai (3.30pm SA time).
“I am very grateful for being selected in the final squad because I have not had a season that I would have liked at my club because of injuries, but I am looking sharp,” Zungu told the SA Football Association website on Friday.
“I am fit, my legs are strong, my weight is good and I feel good. Every day I feel strong. Given a chance, I would try to help this team achieve things.
“This camp has been good and the preparations have been fantastic. Now that we are here in Dubai, the guys look sharp, they look pumped up and ready. Everything has been good; we just need to keep going.”
Bafana are in a tough group with the Ivory Coast, Morocco and Namibia, and the practice matches against Ghana and Angola (on Wednesday) have been organised to ensure South Africa hit the ground running in their Afcon opener on 24 June against the Ivorians in Cairo.
Bafana Bafana getting ready for Black Stars of Ghana on Saturday here in Dubai pic.twitter.com/zXnMR5ZlKO— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) June 14, 2019
“I have two teammates; one from Ivory and other from Morocco. I expect tough games from Ivory Coast and Morocco, but I believe in ourselves because we have done well against the so-called big nations. We are up for the challenge,” the 26-year-old Zungu said.
“I am looking forward to a great spectacle in Egypt. We are ready, and I had a chat with one of my teammates the other day from Ivory Coast; he sounded confident, but hey, we are also pumped up.”@ashfakmohamed