In-form Orlando Pirates striker Tshegofatso Mabasa gets preliminary Bafana Bafana call-up
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JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates’ in-form striker Tshegofatso Mabasa was one of the notable inclusions in Bafana Bafana’s provisional 34-man squad for the back-to-back 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia away and at home next month.
After enduring a turbulent ending and start to last campaign and this season due to niggling injuries, the fully-fit Mabasa has been a breath of fresh air for Pirates upfront. He came off the bench to score the winner against Swallows at home.
A week later, rewarded with a starting berth, Mabasa equalised for the Buccaneers as they came-back-from-behind to beat Chippa United 3-1 away from home. His exploits didn’t go unnoticed, catching the eye of Bafana coach Hugo Broos.
Mabasa is part of Bafana’s provisional squad. Upfront he's alongside a group of experienced and youthful campaigners. Percy Tau, the team's vice-captain, is the most experienced player, but there were two exciting faces in the new contingent.
Vincent Pule made his return to the national team fold after his impressive efforts for Pirates. But many will be delighted with the inclusion of Mduduzi Mdantsane who’s been one of the standout performers for Cape Town City this season.
Bafana are at the summit of the standings in Group G with four points, thanks to a draw with Zimbabwe away and a famous 1-0 win over Ghana at home early last month. But they’ll know that they need back-to-back wins over Ethiopia.
Should that mandate be fulfilled, they’ll draw closer to a top finish in the group – despite the fact that they’ll still have two matches to play against Zimbabwe and Ghana – and qualify for the knockout stage and last round of the World Cup qualifiers.
Meanwhile, Broos has also made some changes to his midfield and defensive departments, with the likes of Jesse Donn, Goodman Mosele, Thabani Zuke, Luke Fleurs, Terrence Mashego and Vusi Sibya getting the first nod from the Belgian.
In one of his addresses, the 69-year-old alluded that there’ll be players who’ll not be part of his camp going forward – not because they are not talented but because of their attitude. Chiefs’ duo Austin Dube and Sibusiso Mabiliso were dropped.
GOALKEEPERS: Ronwen Williams (Supersport United FC) Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu FC) Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs FC) Sifiso Mlungwana (Golden Arrows FC)
DEFENDERS: Sydney Mobbie (Sekhukhune United FC) Thapelo Morena (Mamelodi Sundowns FC) Njabulo Blom (Kaizer Chiefs FC) Terrence Mashego (Cape Town City FC) Sifiso Hlanti (Kaizer Chiefs FC) Vusi Sibiya (Baroka FC) Rushine De Reuck (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Siyanda Xulu (Hapoel Tel Aviv) Thibang Phete (Belenenses SAD) Njabulo Ngcobo (Kaizer Chiefs FC) Mosa Lebusa (Mamelodi Sundowns FC) Luke Fleurs (SuperSport United FC) Tercious Malepe (AmaZulu FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Thabani Zuke (Golden Arrows FC) Mothobi Mvala (Mamelodi Sundowns FC) Sphephelo Sithole (Belenenses FC) Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune FC), Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport United FC) Goodman Mosele (Orlando Pirates FC) Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy FC) Jesse Donn (SuperSport United FC)
FORWARDS: Thabiso Kutumela (Mamelodi Sundowns FC) Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Maritzburg United FC) Evidence Makgopa (Baroka FC) Victor Letsoalo (Royal Am FC) Luther Singh (F.C Copenhagen), Percy Tau (Al Ahly FC) Vincent Pule (Orlando Pirates FC) Mduduzi Mdantsane (Cape Town City FC) Tshegofatso Mabasa (Orlando Pirates FC)