Confusion as Sundowns dominate Bafana Bafana squad

Mamelodi Sundowns players are poised to dominate the match as six players have been drafted into the team for this Wednesday’s game. The presence of six Mamelodi Sundowns players and the inclusion of several notable “phantom” choices will make up caretaker coach Pitso Mosimane’s squad.

Benni McCarthy, Quinton Fortune and Macbeth Sibaya were the surprise selections, not because they are not worthy of inclusion, but because delicate commitments with new European clubs suggest it would be unlikely the trio will turn up for the Windhoek game in spite of Fifa stipulating August 16 as a date for international fixtures. Mosimane indicated as much that “doubts about the trio are the reason why we have named 21 players and not 18.”

The presence in the squad of a substantial contingent of Sundowns players, consisting of goalkeeper Calvin Marlin, defenders Vuyo Mere and Benson Mhlongo, and midfielders Dillon Sheppard, Surprise Moriri and Josta Dladla, was hardly surprising in view of the PSL champions’ impressive early-season form.

And Mosimane has generally done a creditable job while making current form a priority in his selections – unlike some of his dogmatic predecessors. Not considered for selection because of injury were Sibusiso Zuma and Elrio van Heerden.

If the caretaker coach’s choices have left the squad at all vulnerable, it is in the striking department, especially if Blackburn Rovers’ recently-signed McCarthy is not available. Kaizer Chiefs’ Gert Schalkwyk is usually categorized as a midfielder, but is included among the four strikers, with Glen Salmon and Katlego Mashego, players who are said to have close connections with Mosimane, completing the quartet.

Safa CEO Raymond Hack confirmed that Mosimane had been appointed only for the Namibia game.

“Beyond that,” replied Hack when asked when former Brazilian coach Carlos Albert Parreira would be taking over at the helm of Bafana, “nothing has been finally signed and sealed.”

And the Safa CEO said he was not in possession of information at this juncture to suggest Parreira would be in Southern Africa to watch the Namibia game as an observer.

Hack added that no decision had been taken on the position of the Bafana captain either – although Blackburn’s Aaron Mookoena is widely expected to return to the role.

However, it would not be surprising if a good number of South Africa’s leading overseas-based players ultimately turn out to be no more than phantom selections.

The reason for this disturbing situation is that, in spite of pious proclamations on the part of Safa that a “new deal” is in the offing as preparatory work begins towards building a suitably qualified national team for the 2010 World Cup, the maxim that “everything has changed, but nothing has changed” appears very much the order of the day.

Caretaker coach Pitso Mosimane says it is his task to select South Africa’s strongest squad to face the Namibians in view of the start of the crucial 2008 African Nations Cup qualifying campaign against The Congo early in September.

“And that is exactly what I intend to do,” says the forthright SuperSport United coach. He is temporarily wearing the cap of national coach while Safa go about the business of ultimately securing former Brazil national coach Carlos Alberto Parreira for the position.

Mosimane seems very much on the right track in his assessment, particularly as this Wednesday has been designated by Fifa for international matches and it would appear mandatory for all South African players to make themselves available to face the Namibians.

Other sources within Safa, however, have indicated that many of the “big name” overseas-based players will not be heading for Namibia. And where does that leave Bafana? In a usual state of confusion, no less.

A saving grace is the impressive pre-season form of Sundowns, which should ensure a sizeable contingent from last week’s Telkom Charity Cup winners forming the solid base of the Bafana squad, hence Sundowns players Calvin Marlin, Vuyo Mere, Surprise Moriri, Benson Mhlongo, and Josta Dladla. and Dillon Sheppard are among the players named by Mosimane.

As for a “strongest available Bafana squad”, wait with bated breath for the outcome

The Brave Warriors Team Manager, Markus Damaseb says Namibia does not have headaches ahead of the international friendly, as “everything is in place for South Africa’s loss.” The Namibian national team which has been in camp since the 6th of August is expecting a host of foreign-based players tomorrow morning. National team coach Ben Bamfuchile has selected 19 local players and is expecting 10 foreign internationals, for the tie.

Namibia is set to have a 10-day training camp in Johannesburg, South Africa from 20 August, before taking on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the AFCON qualifier on 2 September.

Markus Damaseb told the Soutehrn Times that plans are underway to have at least two friendlies against Orlando Pirates, Sundowns or Moroka Swallows, all teams in the South African Premier League.

‘Perhaps we will travel to Swaziland for an international friendly since it is just a two hours drive,’ noted Damaseb.

August 2006
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