Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane on Thursday named a formidable 24-man squad for the clash against Cte d’Ivoire — Africa’s top ranked nation — at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth next Saturday.
The same squad will travel to Harare after the match for a friendly international against Zimbabwe at Rufaro Stadium on Tuesday evening — three days after the Cte d’Ivoire encounter.
Defender Musa Bilankulu (Golden Arrows), midfielders Granwald Scott and George Maluieka (Ajax Cape Town), George Lebese (Kaizer Chiefs) and Jomo Cosmos striker Siyabonga Nontshinga were the new Bafana faces.
The overseas-based contingent of captain Steven Pienaar, defender Bevan Fransman and midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi made a return to the team.
Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was not selected having just recovered from a bout of pneumonia.
There were no spots for midfielder Andile Jali and forward Thulani Serero, who were expected to be named in the SA under-23 team to play in the eight nation Olympic championships, a final qualifier tournament for next year’s London Games in Morocco later this month.
“It’s good to have the captain back and some of the players who were not part of the squad during the qualifiers [because of injury],” Mosimane said.
“We have to play the giants in Africa to test our players and see what we have in our preparations for the 2013 Afcon en route to 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
“You saw that there was no Jali or Serero. A player that’s not here will be in the under-23 squad.”
There was a concern over Mamelodi Sundowns’ Teko Modise after he suffered an injury in Wednesday’s league game against Platinum Stars.
Mosimane, however, assured that the midfielder would be fit for the two matches.
“Modise suffered a calf injury. Our doctors have spoken to the Sundowns doctors and he should be available,” he said.
The team will assemble and board a flight for Port Elizabeth next Monday with their first training session set for Tuesday morning.
They will leave for Zimbabwe on Sunday afternoon and return on Wednesday morning.
Bafana squad: Goalkeepers: Moeneeb Josephs, Wayne Sandilands.
Defenders: Tsepo Masilela, Punch Masenamela, Musa Bilankulu, Morgan Gould, Bongani Khumalo, Siyabonga Sangweni, Happy Jele, Anele Ngcongca, Bevan Fransman, Siboniso Gaxa.
Midfielders: Daylon Claasen, Hlompho Kekana, Oupa Manyisa, Thanduyise Khuboni, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Granwald Scott, George Maluleka, George Lebese, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Teko Modise, Steven Pienaar.
Strikers: Kermit Erasmus, Siyabonga Nontshinga, Brad Grobler, Katlego Mphela. — Sapa