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Molefi Ntseki names Itumeleng Khune and Bongani Zungu in Afcon squad

Itumeleng Khune of Kaizer Chiefs . Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Itumeleng Khune of Kaizer Chiefs . Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Mar 4, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki named a strong squad ahead of the national team’s back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Ghana at home and away to Sudan later this month.

Heading to the announcement there was a cloud of uncertainty about the depth of the squad that would be called-up by Ntseki, considering that most of the senior players were enduring respective turbulence at club level in the past few months.

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But Ntseki went for experience and stuck with his usual guns. Second highest Bafana Bafana capped player Itumeleng Khune kept his spot in the goalkeeping department, albeit being error-prone at Kaizer Chiefs for the better part of the season.

Ntseki also ensured that independence between clubs and the national team reigned. He called-up the experienced Bongani Zungu who was suspended by Scottish giants Rangers FC after breaching Covid-19 protocols, before recently apolosing and returning to the team.

While Ntseki didn’t want to run the risk of selecting players who were returning from injuries such as Teboho Mokoena and Abbubaker Mobara, according to the team doctor Thulani Ngwenya, he had to select his entrusted players and add a dash of youngsters.

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Percy Tau has had a rollercoaster outing at Brighton & Hove Albion - after being in and out of the team - since returning from a loan stint in Belgium early this year. But Ntseki believes that he'll still be able to lead the front line come the preliminary and last qualifiers.

Players such as Andile Jali, S’fiso Hlanti and Dean Furman have rarely received game-time in their respectives clubs, but Ntseki feels they can offer enough experience that will inspire them to the promised land next year in Cameroon.

While there were rare call-ups for Sipho Mbule and Ben Motshwari, Craig Martin and Veli Mothwa received their first international call-ups at Bafana. The duo have been exceptional for Cape Town City and AmaZulu since the start of the PSL season.

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Bafana are second in Group C with nine points, level with leaders Ghana. But despite holding a qualifying spot, they are not home and dry yet. Anything below less than two points in their last two matches might not be enough to send them to the finals.

Full squad:

GOALKEEPERS: Ronwen Williams, Veli Mothwa, Itumeleng Khune

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DEFENDERS: Thibang Phete, Siyanda Xulu, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Mosa Lebusa, Innocent Maela, Sifiso Hlanti, Thapelo Morena, Craig Martin

MIDFIELDERS: Rivaldo Coetzee, Themba Zwane, Thulani Serero, Ben Motshwari, Bongani Zungu, Keagan Dolly, Percy Tau, Sipho Mbule, Andile Jali, Luther Singh, Dean Furman

STRIKERS: Kermit Erasmus, Bradley Grobler, Ruzaigh Gamildien, Lyle Foster

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