Bafana in a confident mood ahead of Zambia clash

Show us what you can do. That was the challenge thrown down by Bafana Bafana assistant coach
Pitso Mosimane to his squad of PSL based players who meet Zambia at the Super Stadium on Tuesday night.

Said Mosimane: “With the Confederations Cup just around the corner we are saying to the players if you are already in the squad, then this is the chance to cement your place. If you are new then this is the
chance to show us what you are capable of.”

Both countries are taking the match seriously, but for different reasons.
Bafana head coach Joel Santana is under pressure to produce a side that will at least reach the semifinals of the Confederations Cup in June while the Zambians will be using this as an opportunity to showcase their talents to PSL coaches.

This is Santana’s first step in 2009 and he and his technical team have selected a powerful squad.

Santana said he was on track and had 70% to 80% of his players for the Confederations Cup. He also stressed the door was open to new blood.

Zambia have brought a squad of home-based players instead of opting for those already playing in the PSL to give this squad more experience before they compete in the new African Nations Championship in Côte d’Ivoire next month.

Said Mosimane: “It does not matter which team Zambia play or whether it is an official, friendly or training game, they always play hard against us. It is like a local Southern African derby.

“Mosimane explained the big incentive for the Zambians: “The fact all PSL coaches will be watching and looking for new blood, will ensure these guys are very competitive. They will be keen to secure a contract in the PSL which has been the gateway to Europe for a host of Zambian stars such as Isaac Chansa, James Chamanga, Chris Katongo and even
Collins Mbesuma who is back with Mamelodi Sundowns.”

But what has given the home side an added boost was the move by the PSL to postpone two Absa Premiership matches on Wednesday. Santana had selected six players who would have been involved and the clubs were not obliged to release their players as the match is not played on a Fifa sanctioned date.

There were five players involved in the Pretoria derby between Sundowns and defending champions SuperSport United. United coach Gavin Hunt said his two central defenders Bongani Khumalo and Morgan Gould, would not have been released had the game not been postponed.

But Santana successfully pleaded to the league to see the bigger picture by postponing the matches

Also up for grabs for these Bafana hopefuls are places for the friendly international against Chile in Polokwane on February 11. As this is a Fifa date, all the European based players are available and competition is hotting up. Caps will be awarded for this friendly.

Mosimane said things are looking up and Bafana would build on their four successive wins at the end of 2008.

Mosimane stressed that despite the fact no caps will be awarded against Zambia, the games were vital for the preparation and development of the squad.

Said Mosimane: “We uncovered big name such as Teko Modise, Bernard Parker, Terror Fanteni and Brice Moon just to name a few who have come through these training friendlies and gone on to either play in Europe or become big stars in the PSL. I expect some top class performances against Zambia as we have selected players who are on top of their game.”

Strikers such as Mabhuti Khenyeza (Ajax Cape Town), Free State Stars’s Sthembiso Ngcobo, Kaizer Chiefs’s Abia Nale and Katlego Mashego from Orlando Pirates have all shown their willingness to fight for a place in the team.

All four are on top form at present and will pose problems for the Zambian defenders if and when they get the chance.

Ajax winger Franklyn Cale will get his first opportunity to shine on the big stage. He more than deserves his big chance after a string of exciting performances for the Urban Warriors.

Bucs midfielder Teko Modise will pull the strings in the middle of the park while Downs’ keeper Calvin Marlin gets a chance to dislodge Itumeleng Khune from Chiefs. Both are expected to play 45 minutes each. - Sapa

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