Sunday is a friendly, but not for several of our Bafana Bafana players. Their international football futures may be determined on that Port Elizabeth grass.
Following last month’s canceled friendly games, coach Molefi Ntseki now has just Sunday’s friendly against Mali to assess his team options before November’s AFCON 2021 qualifier against Ghana.
While Ntseki is expected to start the same AFCON 2019 side, we also expect him to throw in a different line-up for the second half on Sunday. Or at least start two or three new ‘call-ups.’
We’re talking the likes of Eric Mathoho, Lebogang Phiri, Thulani Serero, Kermit Erasmus and Bradley Grobler.
These five players who will be looking to offer their claims against the Eagles...
Captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and Buhle Mkhwanazi have gone nowhere and are expected to start on Sunday. The pair is also likely to command the defence against Ghana on 11 November. Mathoho nevertheless has an important cause to fight for: become the third choice or become new coach Ntseki's preference ahead of Mkhwanazi.
The 29-year-old from Thohoyandou’s Tshiombo may get 45 minutes and has to make the most of it.
The French-based central midfielder was unlucky to miss out on the ticket to Egypt in June. Such as the unforgiving competition in Bafana’s centre.
“Lebo missed my call when I tried to call him to let him know he was not in the AFCON squad. He called me back. I said you have not made the team and he said to me ‘coach don’t worry about me. I will keep pushing. I will work hard to force myself in. I will make sure I’ll be in the next camp,” former coach Stuart Baxter revealed last May.
With Bongani Zungu out injured, we can expect Phiri to get a run as a substitute for either Dean Furman or Kamohelo Mokotjo.
The Cape Town City striker is back in the fold since falling out with former coach Shakes Mashaba and narrowly missing the cut for Egypt. Thanks to his five goals in nine this term. With Percy Tau doubtful because of injury, and Sibusiso Vilakazi rested, expect Erasmus to start. The Port Elizabeth-born forward’s competition will be the likes of Thembinkosi Lorch, Themba Zwane, Keagan Dolly and Thulani Serero.
The former Ajax Amsterdam attacker arrived in the SA camp from a new destination. Serero now plays his football in the United Arab Emirates' Al-Jazira after July’s big cash move from Holland’s Vitesse. The Soweto-born talent was unused in Egypt and will be looking to fight for his squad status or emerge as Ntseki’s personal preference ahead of the men like Vilakazi, Zwane, and Lorch.
The SuperSport United targetman is the PSL’s form striker with seven in 10. Grobler comes in as a like for like replacement for the Dutch-based striker Lars Veldwijk. But with Lebohang Mothiba in camp and the number starter in Egypt, will Ntseki continue with Mothiba or make Grobler his choice? What will happen is both strikers will get a run on Sunday and a lot is at stake.
Sunday’s game kick off at 15:00.
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