Johannesburg - SuperSport United midfielder Kegan Johannes is raring to go after winning selection to Bafana Bafana’s squad for the COSAFA Cup. The youngster’s call-up comes as a reward after regular first-team action for Matsatsantsa last season.
The 21-year-old also proved that he is a scoring threat as he notched three league goals last term.
“I feel good. It’s an honour to be here. It was not an easy choice for the coaching staff to select the squad based on the quality of players that we have,” said Johannes, a former SA Under-23 player.
While Johannes is new to the senior national team setup, international football is nothing new to him. He was part of the South African side which finished third in the 2019 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations. By finishing third in the tournament that was held in Egypt, South Africa earned qualification to the Olympics in Tokyo last year.
“It was surreal for me at the time to play in that tournament. I was 18-years-old and the experience I got was good. I played against older guys and helping the team qualify for the World Cup was surreal. Most world class players go through those ranks.” said Johannes.
Helman Mkhalele is due to lead Bafana at the COSAFA Cup in place of senior men’s national team coach Hugo Broos. The COSAFA Cup will serve as a platform to nurture future Bafana Bafana players. The squad is mainly young players and Mkhalele will also be looking to test players that can form the core of the South African Under-23 men’s team’s bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Johannes will be eligible to play in Paris and could be a core component of the team.
“There is a bit of pressure. At the same time, I can see the coaches' plans and the plans of the country. We are going in the right direction. The players we have in the national setup now are mostly younger players. The national team coach (Hugo Broos) also prefers selecting younger players. We are on the right track. We are starting to get cohesion in the teams,” said Johannes.
South Africa heads into the COSAFA Cup as defending champions and will start their campaign with a quarter-final clash against Mozambique at the Princess Magogo Stadium.
“There is heavy expectation on us as players. We know that as defending champions, we should aspire to defend the title. We should not look at it as a walkover because we have beaten them before. We have to broaden our expectations and be prepared to expect anything,” said Johannes.