Why Bafana Bafana have to win Cosafa Cup
Siya Kolisi's appointment as the first black African to captain the Springboks may have dominated the sports headlines in the last 24 hours or so but there is also the small matter of Bafana Bafana’s participation in the regional Cosafa Cup next week.
Coach Stuart Baxter’s men will enter the regional tournament in the quarterfinal stage against the winner of Group A on June 3 after they were given a bye for the qualification round. They will hard-pressed to avoid the embarrassment of being knocked out at first attempt.
Elimination is not an option for Baxter and his men as he has managed put together one of the most exciting squads in the history of this tournament with most of the players having featured regularly in the PSL in the recently ended season.
The Briton has covered his bases in every department and there are genuine expectations from long-suffering South African fans that the highly promising players he's selected will deliver.
South Africa could face the likes of Zambia‚ Zimbabwe‚ Mozambique‚ Angola or Malawi‚ in the latter stages of the tournament and these are the teams that should give Baxter an idea of his team's capabilities.
If you look at the goalkeeping department‚ Riyaad Pieterse played regularly for SuperSport United and in defence Siyanda Xulu was the solid rock for Maritzburg United with his captain Bevan Fransman on their way to finishing fourth in the PSL and reaching the Nedbank Cup final.
Innocent Maela of Orlando Pirates and Taariq Fielies of Cape Town City have been revelations while the midfield trio of Maritzburg United Siphesihle Ndlovu‚ Fortune Makaringe and Lebogang Maboe were impressive in all competitions.
The same goes for Aubrey Modiba‚ despite the fact that SuperSport United found themselves fighting relegation in the closing stages of the campaign.
Up front Baxter has Gift Motupa‚ who scored nine goals in an injury ravaged season for Baroka FC‚ and the undoubted attacking talents of Pirates’ Lyle Foster‚ Ryan Moon of Kaizer Chiefs and Luther Singh.
Singh has just been promoted to the first team by Portuguese Primeira Liga side SC Braga and will attract a lot of attention in Polokwane.
There are other players like Siyabonga Ngezana of Kaizer Chiefs‚ Motjeka Madisha of league champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Bruce Bvuma of Kaizer Chiefs who will be fighting for places in the starting line-up.
Bafana arrived a week early in Polokwane to prepare for battle and looking at the talented and balanced squad that Baxter has managed to assemble‚ they simply do not have other option but to win this tournament.