Bafana turn to promising youth for Cosafa Cup

Thabang Sibanyoni of University of Pretoria has been called up to the Bafana setup for the upcoming Cosafa Cup. | BackpagePix

Thabang Sibanyoni of University of Pretoria has been called up to the Bafana setup for the upcoming Cosafa Cup. | BackpagePix

Published Jun 24, 2024



The widely held view that Bafana Bafana would be fielding its strongest Cosafa Cup team in years has turned out to be pie in the sky.

The preliminary squad announced a week ago included many of the Premiership’s best youthful talents. It was a pointer that Bafana Bafana could be fielding a crackerjack team at the Southern African tournament in Gqeberha from June 26-July 7.

However, the Premiership ‘Big 3’ – Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs – have cold-shouldered Bafana Bafana and declared their players off-limits for the 12-team tournament. As a result, the country’s most exciting youngsters Relebohile Mofokeng (Pirates) and Siyabonga Mabhena (Sundowns) are not in the squad.

A few other Premiership clubs have also declared players unavailable, and the highly promising Shandré Campbell (SuperSport United) could not be called up.

All is not lost though because several other Premiership clubs have given their players the green light for the regional tournament which falls outside of Fifa dates. During this time clubs are not obliged to release their players for national team duty.

Thabang Sibanyoni, the University of Pretoria striker, is the only player outside the Premiership ranks. He is on loan from Sundowns. Nevertheless, the squad is still a strong one and will be among the favourites along with 11-time winners Zambia and Zimbabwe (6).

The squad has a strong Cape flavour since 10 of the 23 players are from clubs in the Mother City.

Bafana head coach Hugo Broos and his assistant coach Helman Mkhalele. | BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele will oversee the side while national team coach Hugo Broos takes a break. Mkhalele said the Cosafa Cup tournament could be a stepping stone for the Bafana Bafana hopefuls in the squad.

“For us to be able to compete and achieve our results, it is our view that it is important to have more players to select from. More importantly, players will learn the required competency to perform at the higher levels of football,” said Mkhalele.

“As we observed during the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast earlier this year, the football on the continent has improved drastically. For us to sustain the current performance of Bafana Bafana and improve it, we must have players that can perform at that level without any doubt.”

The squad assembled in Johannesburg on Saturday and flew to Gqeberha on Sunday.

Bafana Bafana will be in Group A which includes Botswana, Mozambique and Eswatini. Their opening match will be on Wednesday (6pm) against Mozambique’s Mambas at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Bafana Bafana's Cosafa squad

Goalkeepers: Samukelo Xulu (SuperSport United), Mondli Mpoto (Royal AM), Olwethu Mzimela (AmaZulu)

Defenders: Sergio Kammies (Chippa United), Thabang Matuludi (Polokwane City), Keanu Cupido (Cape Town City), Thabo Moloisane (Stellenbosch FC), Rushwin Dortley (Cape Town Spurs), Athenkosi Mcaba (Stellenbosch FC), Malebogo Modise (Chippa United)

Midfielders: Liam Bern (Cape Town Spurs), Brooklyn Poggenpoel (Chippa United), Antonio van Wyk (Stellenbosch), Jaedin Rhodes (Cape Town City), Ethan Brooks (AmaZulu)

Forwards: Yanela Mbuthuma (Richards Bay), Devin Titus (Stellenbosch), Mfundo Thikazi (Royal AM), Asenele Velebayi (Cape Town Spurs), Tshepang Moremi (AmaZulu), Ashley Cupido (Cape Town Spurs), Thabang Sibanyoni (TUKS), Sinoxolo Kwayiba (Chippa United)

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