On Friday evening South Africa takes on Sao Tome ePrincipe in a 2021 AFCON qualifier at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.
FARPost looks at how coach Molefi Ntseki might pick his starting line-up ahead of the crucial encounter.
In goal SuperSport United captain Ronwen Williams has been a regular for the national team for the past 18 months after first choice goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune fell out of favour mostly due to being sidelined by injuries and lack of game time. The shot-stopper is the most obvious choice in goal.
Itumeleng Khune and Darren Keet offer a wealth of experience but their lack of game time will also work against them while Williams has been a regular for SuperSport United throughout.
In the absence of both Reeve Frosler and Abubakar Mobara who were both involved in last month’s camp in Rustenburg and with veteran Thami Mkhize also ruled out Mamelodi Sundowns defender Thapelo Morena is almost an obvious choice at right back.
Siyabonga Dube’s lack of international experience is likely to put him second behind Morena. Sfiso Hlanti was the first choice for the past two years at left back with Orlando Pirates’s Innocent Maela deputising him since the time of coach Stuart Baxter, but Hlanti missed out on the squad leaving Maela as the favourite to start at left back.
Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo’s partnership with Buhle Mkhwanazi has been a consistent feature in the national team for the past few years, but with Mkhwanazi’s recent omission from the team ‘Tyson’ is on the lookout for a new partner. Coach Molefi Ntseki called up Portugal-based Thibang Phete, but he had to be withdrawn from the team for medical reasons.
Mamelodi Sundowns defender Motjeka Madisha was Bafana Bafana’s best defender in the 2-1 loss against Zambia last month and that might have earned him a role alongside his captain.
In midfield the coach is likely to go for the tried and tested combination of Kamohelo Mokotjo, Dean Furman and Bongani Zungu who have been in the national team set-up for some time and played together in some big games in the past. It was the three midfielders who shielded South Africa’s defence against Egypt as Bafana Bafana won 1-0 in the quarter-final of the 2019 AFCON. Coach Ntseki has been emphasizing how important it is to get all three points in the two games and he is likely to select his best soldiers to dictate the game.
Anderlecht’s Percy Tau is expected to lead the attack as he is the country’s best player up front at the moment. Absa Premiership Player of the Season Themba Zwane is likely to partner his former teammate up front playing in more creative free role outside while Kermit Erasmus is the only striker in the camp after Bradley Grobler ruled out through injury. The coach has recently said how he expects the former Orlando Pirates striker to score goals in the national team and how he believes in him, there is no better time than now.
Pacos de Ferreira winger Luther Singh is likely to be the coach’s wild-card in attack, but a substitute appearance might be the coach’s plan seeing as he is one of the new players on the side together with players like Rushine De Reuck and Teboho Mokoena.
Keagan Dolly has been getting a lot of game time at his club Montpellier and he might also play a part from the bench.
Here is FARPost’s possible line up:
Williams, Morena, Maela, Hlatshwayo, Madisha, Mokotjo, Zungu, Furman , Zwane, Tau, Erasmus.
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By Prince Sobayeni