Sport

Bafana gear up for Swazis

Billy Cooper

Bafana Bafana fringe players will get their chance to impress Carlos Alberto Parreira when Bafana tackle Swaziland in a training game on Saturday.

Bafana Bafana fringe players will get their chance to impress Carlos Alberto Parreira when Bafana tackle Swaziland in a training game at Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium on Saturday. Kick-off is at 4pm.

Parreira took his first major step in preparing Bafana for what will be a difficult World Cup finals in June when he called up 29 locally-based players for a two week training camp in Durban which culminates in the full friendly international against Zimbabwe at the Moses Mabhida Stadium next Wednesday.

Parreira will be looking for players who fit into his game plan and philosophy.

Bafana assistant coach Pitso Mosimane said the Brazilian head coach would give as many players in his current squad a run against the Swazis in order to get a look at them under competitive match conditions.

There will be no caps awarded for this match but there will also be no excuses either from Parreira, should the Swazis be tougher to crack than expected.

Said Mosimane: “We have taken 29 players into this first camp of 2010 in Durban which gives Parreira the opportunity to work close up with players he has not had contact with before.”

But Mosimane stressed that the bigger match was the international friendly against Zimbabwe at the new World Cup venue next Wednesday where caps will be awarded.

“There is nothing at stake in terms of world ranking points against Swaziland, except that it is an important part of our preparation.

“However, the game against Zimbabwe is the real thing and counts towards our world ranking.”

Mosimane said while Zimbabwe posed the bigger threat, Parreira was not taking Swaziland lightly.

“We know Swaziland have nothing to lose and everything to gain to try and beat us. Add the fact they have a former Bafana coach in Shakes Mashaba in charge, makes our job double harder.”

Mosimane said they had not agreed on how many substitutes they can use, but said it would be a lot more that the usual five used in friendly games.

“We cannot play everybody, but we will try and give as many as we can a run—after all that is why we called them into the camp.”

Mosimane stressed the technical team had worked hard since they made camp in Durban on Monday.

“We have worked on tactics and physical training. It is not an easy job combining the two, but as the players came off a break we had no choice.

“Also we have to get the balance right in that we want to make sure we return the players to their clubs next Thursday in peak physical and mental condition.

“It has been a hard week training twice a day, but should bear fruit, hopefully by the time we play Zimbabwe.

“The Swaziland match will be a warm-up and afford players a chance to impress and for Parreira to work out his combinations and
tactics that he has tried at training.”

Mamelodi Sundowns veteran central defender Matthew Booth, is the favourite to captain the side in the two matches. He will have two teammates who are newcomers to Bafana in the form of Siyanda Xulu and Luvhengo Mungomeni alongside him in defence, while in midfield Matthew Pattison will come under Parreira spotlight for the first time.

The 23-year-old, who previously played all of his senior soccer in England for Newcastle United and Norwich City, has been a revelation for Downs this season.

The two Orlando Pirates youngsters, defender Happy Jele and midfielder Andile Jali, should get some game time while their teammates, strikers Gert Schalkwyk—a surprise choice—and Thulasizwe Mbuyane are expected to get a run out as well.

Other fringe players such as Golden Arrows defender Siyabonga Sangweni, midfielder Thanduyise Khuboni, the Bloemfontein Celtic midfield pair of Thabo Nthethe and Tlou Segolela, are in line to play at some stage against the Swazis.—Sapa

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