Hugo Broos includes three Pirates players in Bafana squad
Coach keeps faith with youngsters, with two 30-plus stars overlooked
Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos has beefed up the Orlando Pirates contingent in his preliminary squad for October’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia.
His inclusions from Bucs in the 34-man squad were big in-form striker Tshegofatso Mabasa, 24, exciting midfielder Goodman Mosele, 21, and winger Vincent Pule, 29.
In August Broos raised eyebrows when he included just one Pirates player, Innocent Maela, in the initial squad for the qualifiers against Zimbabwe and Ghana. Maela failed to make the final squad.
Mabasa fits the bill for a coach with an eye on the future and has scored twice in three league games since returning from injury for Pirates. Mosele’s quality play in midfield has caught the eye of caretaker Pirates coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids.
In keeping with Broos’ emphasis on youth, there again was no place for 30-plus stars Themba Zwane, 32, or former Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, 31, while Amiens SC’s Bongani Zungu, 28, also remains in the cold.
However, in a break from the youth-centric policy, Kaizer Chiefs’ 31-year-old left-back Sifiso Hlanti is included.
Also included was Royal AM striker Victor Letsoalo, whose brace was the catalyst to a dramatic 4-1 humbling of Chiefs on Saturday and who caught the eye in a Bafana developmental team that won the Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha in July.
Letsoalo was retained from the Bafana squad that began with a 0-0 draw against Zimbabwe in Harare and followed with a 1-0 win against Ghana at FNB Stadium to top Group G.
In Letsoalo, Mabasa, Percy Tau, Baroka FC’s Evidence Makgopa and Maritzburg United’s Bongokuhle Hlongwane, the scorer against Ghana, Broos has a rare complement of in-form and exciting strikers to choose from.
Having been previously omitted, Chiefs centre-back Njabulo Ngcobo has been included in the provisional squad.
Broos will name his 23-man squad on Saturday.
Bafana meet Ethiopia away on October 9, then at FNB Stadium three days later.
The Walias began Group G with a 1-0 defeat away against Ghana, then beat Zimbabwe 1-0 at home.
Broos has said that if Bafana can beat Ethiopia twice they will be in a prime position to progress to the final home-and-away play-off round.
Bafana provisional 34-man squad
Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams (SuperSport), Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Bruce Bvuma (Chiefs), Sifiso Mlungwana (Arrows).
Defenders: Nyiko Mobbie (Sekhukhune), Thapelo Morena (Sundowns), Njabulo Blom (Chiefs), Terrence Mashego (CT City), Sifiso Hlanti (Chiefs), Vusi Sibiya (Baroka), Rushine De Reuck (Sundowns), Siyanda Xulu (Hapoel Tel Aviv), Thibang Phete (Belenenses), Njabulo Ngcobo (Chiefs), Mosa Lebusa (Sundowns), Luke Fleurs (SuperSport), Tercious Malepe (AmaZulu).
Midfielders: Thabani Zuke (Arrows), Mothobi Mvala (Sundowns), Sphephelo Sithole (Belenenses), Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune), Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport), Goodman Mosele (Pirates), Ethan Brooks (Galaxy), Jesse Donn (SuperSport).
Forwards: Thabiso Kutumela (Sundowns), Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Maritzburg), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka), Victor Letsoalo (Royal AM), Luther Singh (FC Copenhagen), Percy Tau (Al Ahly), Vincent Pule (Pirates), Mduduzi Mdantsane (CT City), Tshegofatso Mabasa (Pirates).