back from dead

SW20051009AMU031:SPORT:SOCCER:09OCT2005 - 20051008AMU SPORTS/SOCCER South Africa Vs Burkina Faso at Rustenburg Stadium. Lebohang Mokoena celebrating with Staton Lewis. PHOTO:ANTONIO MUCHAVECHEESE: Lebohang Mokoena. Sowetan. 10/03/2010. pg. 31
SW20051009AMU031:SPORT:SOCCER:09OCT2005 - 20051008AMU SPORTS/SOCCER South Africa Vs Burkina Faso at Rustenburg Stadium. Lebohang Mokoena celebrating with Staton Lewis. PHOTO:ANTONIO MUCHAVECHEESE: Lebohang Mokoena. Sowetan. 10/03/2010. pg. 31

A HOST of messages have gone out to Bafana Bafana, pleading with them to avoid spoiling the festive mood sparked by the celebration of 100 days to the kickoff of the 2010 World Cup.

A HOST of messages have gone out to Bafana Bafana, pleading with them to avoid spoiling the festive mood sparked by the celebration of 100 days to the kickoff of the 2010 World Cup.

The national team faces the Brave Warriors of Namibia at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban tonight at 8.30 in a friendly engagement that forms part of the celebrations leading up to the spectacle.

Bafana coach Alberto Carlos Parreira has let it be known that he plans to consolidate his core group of players with the ones he has called up for this game.

But one name on the list of 22 players released by Parreira must have taken many people by surprise - that of Lebohang Mokoena.

The speedy Mamelodi Sundowns winger has undergone a spectacular resurrection. He returned from the football wilderness a few months ago to carve a niche for himself at Downs, which drew the attention of Parreira and his assistant Pitso Mosimane.

Mokoena has one cap for Bafana, having played for the national squad against Mexico in 2005. Bafana won that match 2-1.

"Being called up meant a lot to me, a dream fulfilled. I think it happened at the right time. I was very surprised. One never knows who is going to be called up to the national team," said Mokoena after their training session in Durban yesterday.

On the subject of the World Cup, Mokoena has interesting views on Bafana's opening match against the Mexicans on June 11.

"People tend to forget that we have beaten Mexico before, away from home, and all I can say is that we are capable of repeating that feat," he said.

Back when the country started bidding for the hosting rights to this tournament four years ago, most South Africans envisioned Mokoena as one of the players who would set the stage on fire at the World Cup.

But much has happened since then. And luckily for Mokoena he has one more chance to dazzle Parreira, which is more than some can say, most notably Mbulelo Mabizela.

It is not clear what Bafana will learn from Tom Saintfelt's 113th-ranked team tonight, but it will be great to see players such as Bradley Carnell, Bryce Moon and Bevan Fransman in action once again.

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