Bafana gear up for friendlies

Not enough game in Europe for some of Bafana Bafana’s star players could pose a huge challenge to Bafana’s technical team as they prepare for their two friendly matches against Norway and Portugal later this month. Head coach Joel Santana names his squad for both matches on Thursday morning.

Bafana host the Scandinavians at the revamped Royal Bafokeng Stadium on March 28, and then play Portugal in Switzerland three days later.

The match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium will be used to reopen the venue, which has been upgraded to host the Confederations Cup matches and to be used as the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge.

Santana´s biggest problem is most of his European-based players are not getting enough game time for their clubs.

Bafana assistant coach Pitso Mosimane was honest when he assessed Bafana’s preparation for the two friendly games and the Confederation Cup, which is just around the corner. Bafana open the Confederation Cup against Asian champions Iraq at Ellis Park on June 14.

Said Mosimane: “The cold facts are that too many of our players in Europe and sitting on the bench and not playing regularly.
The only exception is Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar, who is developing into a world-class midfield star.”

Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena has had little game time at English Club Blackburn Rovers and is looking for a transfer at the end of the season. His Rovers teammate and Bafana´s leading goal scorer, Benni McCarthy, got half a game in relegation haunted Rovers’ 4-0 thrashing by Arsenal in the English Premiership last weekend.

Neither Elrio van Heerden of Belgium outfit Club Brugge, nor Germany-based left back, Bradley Carnell, are regulars with their clubs according to Mosimane.

Said Mosimane: “Add the fact that central defender Matthew Booth and midfielder Lance Davids have both rejoined PSL clubs and are not fully fit. Booth joined Mamelodi Sundowns after six years in Russia in January, while Davids, who is out of contract with Danish side Djurgardens, has joined SuperSport United.

Said Mosimane: “The only good thing is our Israel-based players, such as Terror Fanteni, Tsepo Masilela and Bevan Fransman, are all playing regularly. It is a huge challenge for us playing two matches against top European opposition within three days with a side not fully fit. But that is something we will have to overcome.”

Bafana were give a rude wake-up call when they were outplayed 2-0 by a lively Chile side in Polokwane last month and Santana needs to pick up the pieces and regain the winning momentum.

Admitted Mosimane: “There were positives and negatives from Chile. It was good to play a top side from South America and now one from Scandinavia, followed by a top side like Portugal.”

Santana is unlikely to spring too many surprises with players such as Ajax Cape Town´s left wing Franklyn Cale and Kaizer Chiefs striker-cum right wing Abia Nale under the microscope.

PSL Player of the Month Downs’ Surprise Moriri, is also set to get a Bafana recall after regaining his best form.—Sapa

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