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Olympians for Bafana

By Tshepang Mailwane | 2016-08-12 06:42:13.0

Abbubaker Mobara of South Africa clears ball from Seturumane Tsepo of Lesotho during the 2016 Cosafa Cup Quarterfinals match between South Africa and Lesotho at Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek Namibia on 18 June, 2016. Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

The national Under-23 team may have been knocked out of the Olympics, but Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba is convinced some of the players who were in Rio will form part of his 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifying squad.

Mashaba may even give some of the players an opportunity to don the senior jersey in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Mauritania next month.

SA open their road to Russia 2018 with an away clash against Burkina Faso in October.

The Under-23 players who stood out at the Olympics are Abbubaker Mobara, Gift Motupa, Deolin Mekoa and Aubrey Modiba. They could get a call-up in the near future as Bafana look to redeem themselves after the disappointment of not qualifying for Afcon in Gabon next year.

Keagan Dolly has broken into the senior team and used the opportunity at the Olympics to once again prove that he is one of the country's brightest prospects.

"I heard a lot of people saying this (Under-23) team is Bafana Bafana. I agree with them. Gone are the days when we would fetch a player from 10 years back to play today. I am happy about what is happening," said Mashaba.

"I would love to see some of those boys playing [for Bafana]. The longer we take to bring them in, they can become discouraged.

"I look at people and (ask) why they contradict themselves. If they say that those players are Bafana (but) when we select them and things don't go well, they say we should have fetched so and so."

Mashaba is pleased with how the country's national teams have progressed in the past two years. All the junior national teams have qualified for major competitions.

"This is what we have been preaching. What killed our football (in the past) was personal glory. Everyone who was in a position was all about 'me'. We lacked this synergy, where the Under-17s work with the Under-20s and the Under-20s work with the Under-23s and the rest work with the senior team. It makes life easier."

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