bafana in giving spirit

NEW MEMBER: Celtic's Thabo Nthethe.  14/05/2008. Pic. Lee Warren.  © Gallo Imges
NEW MEMBER: Celtic's Thabo Nthethe. 14/05/2008. Pic. Lee Warren. © Gallo Imges

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Bafana Bafana have promised South Africans an early Christmas gift in the form of a win over the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon on November 19.

The Nelson Mandela Challenge match will feature some of the best players in the world .

Joel Santana, Bafana Bafana coach, said they were determined to register their fourth consecutive win to lay a solid foundation for the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Santana said the victory will also be a great birthday present for him. He was born on Christmas Day.

Santana has surprisingly selected only three strikers for the game - the doubtful Benni McCarthy, Katlego Mphela and Bernard Parker.

McCarthy's participation hangs in the balance after his father died in Cape Town earlier in the week.

Raymond Hack, Safa chief executive, said: "We have not spoken to Benni but we will respect his decision as to whether he can play after his tragic loss. There will be no pressure whatsoever on Benni to play."

Santana has also dropped Thembinkosi Fanteni, Bryce Moon and Bevan Fransman, who have been part of his winning team.

He defended their absence by saying some of the clubs refused to release their players, forgetting the Mandela Challenge will be played on a Fifa date.

With Richard enyekane in such devastating scoring form, Santana does not have to look far if McCarthy asks to be excused. The only new member of the squad is Bloemfontein Celtic left-back Thabo Nthethe.

With Cameroon bringing big names like Samuel Eto'o, Rigobert Song and Geremi Njitap, Bafana are gearing themselves for a great match.

Santana said he did not have regrets since taking over as Bafana Bafana coach, despite a dismal Afcon qualifying campaign.