Bafana coach Ntseki prepares for busy fixture list
Congested calendar provides a rare opportunity to try out a host of new players
Molefi Ntseki explained why he cast the net wide for Bafana Bafana’s friendlies against Namibia and Zambia‚ saying with a congested list of big fixtures in 2021 this will be a rare opportunity to have a look at new players.
Last week Bafana Bafana coach named an adventurous squad for the matches against Namibia and Zambia‚ both at Royal Bafokeng Stadium‚ on Thursday and Sunday.
He said that with international football playing catch-up in 2021 after 2020 was a virtual write-off due to Covid-19 almost all Bafana’s matches in 2021 will be “cup finals”. Ntseki said he wanted to use these friendlies to look at players and also expand the pool.
“If you look at the Caf [Confederation of African Football] fixtures starting in November this year and going into 2021‚ it will be extremely congested,” he said.
“Next year we are to play the last qualifiers for Afcon [Africa Cup of Nations] 2021 in March — playing Ghana at home and then Sudan away. And from there we will be playing the qualifiers for the World Cup in 2022 in Qatar.
“And towards the end of the year we start to play the Afcon 2023 qualifiers. So we are not going to have any opportunity to play friendlies‚ to prepare our team and to test our strength.
“So we are really thankful to have these forthcoming friendlies so we can also give other players an opportunity‚ and we can also do the proper profiling of such players at international level going into the November fixtures.”
Among the more obscure of Ntseki’s selections are Thibang Phete‚ a 26-year-old defender who plays for Belenenses SAD in Portugal’s Primeira Liga‚ and 23-year-old Belgian-based forward Kurt Abrahams of KVC Westerlo.
Other notable fringe players drafted — some of whom showed interesting signs of form as the Premier Soccer League was concluded in a biobubble — include Mamelodi Sundowns and former Bidvest Wits goalkeeper Ricardo Goss and defender and Sundowns teammate Motjeka Madisha.
Abbubaker Mobara and Thabo Nodada of Cape Town City‚ another Sundowns signing in Mothobi Mvala‚ Maritzburg United forward Thabiso Kutumela‚ SuperSport United midfielder Sipho Mbule and striker Luther Singh of SC Braga in Portugal are other intriguing call-ups.
Nsteki said he had blended four Under-23 players from coach David Notoane’s team for the 2020 Olympics‚ 10 from the side that competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics‚ and experienced players to provide the spine and integrate the new players.
The forthcoming friendlies are preparation for November’s 2021 Afcon home and away qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe.
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