Bucs star ready to take on Azzuri

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Bennet Chenene, a winger with an educated left foot, is relishing the prospect of featuring for Bafana Bafana in a friendly against world champions Italy in Siena on October 17.

The Orlando Pirates player replaced seasoned campaigner Delron Buckley, who was forced to withdraw because of injury, said team manager Sipho Nkumane.

Chenene said the game was a perfect opportunity for the younger players to impress in order to be considered for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.

"We all know that everybody has been thinking about the 2010 World Cup, but we need to remember that there are games to be played in the build-up," he said.

"One of the big tournaments that we will play before going to the World Cup is the 2008 and 2010 Afcon in Ghana and Angola, as well as the 2009 Confederations Cup.

"There is a lot of pressure on us as South Africa because the world media has been focusing on the soccer developments in our country.

"Let me confess, I did not expect to be called up for national duty for the game against Italy. This is one game that every player will take it as an honour to be part of.

"Italy are the reigning World Cup champions, they are currently ranked number one in the world by Fifa [Bafana were ranked 73rd in September] and have won the World Cup four times.

"I was delighted to be selected, but there are no guarantees because we all want to impress to be part of the World Cup final team.

"It will be a tough game but we will give it out best shot against the Italians," said Chenene, who is from Sharpeville.

Another change from the original 22-member squad named by coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is Ricardo Katza, who replaced the injured Bradley Carnell.

"There have been no other changes after the withdrawal of Delron and Bradley because of injuries, all the other players are in good health," said Nkumane.

Nkumane is expected to arrive in Germany today to make final arrangements before the team lands in the country on Thursday morning for a mini training camp.