SERBIA poser for santana

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Mamelodi
Sundowns striker
Mabhudi
Khenyeza. Pic: Sydney Mahlangu. Circa. © Sowetan.
Mabhuti Khenyeza of South Africa

International Friendly, South Africa v Zambia, Super Stadium, Atteridgeville, South Africa
©Pic Sydney Mahlangu / Backpagepix
MORE TIME: Mamelodi Sundowns striker Mabhudi Khenyeza. Pic: Sydney Mahlangu. Circa. © Sowetan. Mabhuti Khenyeza of South Africa International Friendly, South Africa v Zambia, Super Stadium, Atteridgeville, South Africa ©Pic Sydney Mahlangu / Backpagepix

IT WOULD be out of character if Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana did not keep faith with the bulk of players who performed commendably in Confederations Cup defeats against powerhouses Brazil and Spain when he announces his squad tomorrow to face the talented Serbians.

IT WOULD be out of character if Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana did not keep faith with the bulk of players who performed commendably in Confederations Cup defeats against powerhouses Brazil and Spain when he announces his squad tomorrow to face the talented Serbians.

After all, the Brazilian coach stuck his neck out on several occasions in his Confederations Cup selections. Under the circumstances, to make wholesale changes in mid-stream for next Wednesday's game at Loftus Stadium, would be an act devoid of logic.

For all this, the largely conservative Santana is sure to recognise the continuing goal-scoring limitations in the Bafana ranks that were hardly alleviated while scoring no more than four goals in five Confederations Cup matches - and are a serious concern in the 2010 World Cup build-up.

The cynics will also suggest that Bafana's record of three defeats, a draw and only a single win from five Confederations Cup matches can hardly be evaluated as success by those who believe in the sentiment of one-time great baseball catcher Yogi Berra that "winning is everything and losing is nothing".

Maybe so. But the three defeats were against two of the best teams in the world, with Bafana emerging with more credit than few expected.

However, if Santana does look further afield to find an elusive striker with a penchant for providing goals, the players he might be considering are long-serving, top Bafana goal-scorer Benni McCarthy; last season's leading PSL scorer, Richard Henyekane; and the elusive Mabhudi Khenyeza, who recently moved from Ajax Cape Town to Mamelodi Sundowns. That none of the trio was chosen for the Confederations Cup must be construed as one strike against them.

Santana took a bold step in dropping McCarthy because of his seemingly continuing attitude of placing his own interests above those of the national team - something no previous Bafana coach had shown the courage to do.

And quite candidly, the Blackburn Rovers striker has since done nothing to suggest he deserves a recall at this point, with his form and fitness still continuing to be suspect apart from anything else.

Khenyeza, similarly to McCarthy in the matter of indiscipline when taking into account his failure to arrive at the Bafana Confederations Cup training camp on time and his consequent axing, might also need to provide more on the field to earn Santana's forgiveness.

And though the absence of Henyekane from the Confederations Cup was a selection decision for which the Bafana coach was most criticised, nothing tangible has happened since to make Santana change his mind about the Arrows striker.

But desperate times sometimes result in desperate measures and one of the trio - McCarthy, Khenyeza or Henyekane - could still feature in the squad to face Serbia. - Sapa

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