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Ntseki announces Bafana Bafana squad to face Sao Tome in 2021 AFCON qualifiers

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12 March 2020 
– Bafana Bafana head coach Molefi Ntseki has named a squad of 25 players to face Sao Tome e Principe in back-to-back Cameroon 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. The home game is scheduled for 27/28 March 2020, with the return match scheduled four days later.

These will be the third and fourth matches for South Africa in the qualifiers of the continental football showpiece scheduled for January next year.

The first fixture will see Bafana Bafana hosting Sao Tome e Principe at FNB Stadium – either on Friday, 27 March or Saturday, 28 March 2020CAF is still to confirm the exact date.

The second leg will be played on Tuesday, 31 March 2020 at Estadio Nacional 12 de Julho in Sao Tome.

Kickoff is at 15h00.

Ntseki has made nine changes to the squad that faced Ghana and Sudan in the last qualifiers in November last year.

Returning to the Bafana Bafana fold after a long absence is a goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, midfielders Andile Jali, Thabo Matlaba and George Maluleka, while Gladwin Shitolo and Reeve Frosler are the only new caps – Brandon Peterson has also been recalled but is yet to be capped.

Frosler has played two in FIFA World Cup tournaments – Chile U17 in 2015 (under Ntseki), South Korea U20 2017 (under Thabo Senong) as well as 2019 U23 Olympic qualifiers (under David Notoane).

Also included in this squad are Teboho Mokoena and Themba Zwane.

“Some of those players are unfortunately injured and could not be with us, while some are still recovering – but then again this also gives a chance to the other players to show what they can do for Bafana Bafana. The beauty of the national team is that there are always players waiting in the wings to step when a need arises,” said Ntseki.

The Bafana Bafana mentor has been crisscrossing the length and breadth of the country visiting various clubs.

He has already been to Bloemfontein Celtic, Highlands Park, Golden Arrows, Amazulu, Polokwane City, Black Leopards, Baroka, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. He will be visiting Mamelodi Sundowns on Friday (13 March).

“The past few weeks have been spent very wisely. I have visited most of the teams in the PSL, watching games on location and television, profiling some of the players that you see in the squad today. I can safely say now that there are three to four players in every position for Bafana Bafana, which is a healthy option for any national team coach,” added Ntseki.

“So when I pick a player it because I have seen them over some time, and on the other hand, when I don’t pick a player it is because I have a reason not to. And I must say thank you to all the teams, especially the coaches, as they all made me feel very welcome. They also assisted me by giving me the information that I could not have. These visitations will continue as we look to make a strong and passionate Bafana Bafana that the country can be proud of.”

Bafana Bafana and Sao Tome will be meeting for the first time. South Africa is second in Group C, three points behind log leaders Ghana who have six points.

Sudan is third, while Sao Tome is the bottom of the table.

“These two matches are very crucial for us – we are gunning for six points, nothing less, as this will put us up there within qualifying distance. We have no choice but to go for a win, and this does not mean we disrespect Sao Tome but we have a job to do and that is to qualify for AFCON 2021,” said Ntseki.

“What we also need as a country and team is positivity, a lot of faith and a bit of luck – those three ingredients can make us go far. But I am confident with the team we have selected, at the end of this round of matches we will know where we stand in terms of qualifying for Cameroon.”

Bafana assembles for camp on Sunday, 22 March 2020 in Johannesburg.

They will hold their training sessions at the Sandton Sports Club.

South Africa will fly to Sao Tome on Saturday, 28 March – where they will have two training sessions at the match venue on Sunday and Monday, before the big clash with the hosts on Tuesday (31 March).

Bafana Bafana will fly back home immediately after the match and are expected to land on Wednesday morning (1 April)

Zandri Brümmer