Ntseki makes two changes to the Bafana squad to face Mali in Nelson Mandela Challenge
Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki holds no fear over facing high rated Mali in this year's edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge to be played at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth next month.
Bafana face the West Africans on October 13 and Ntseki will use the match to prepare for next month’s back-to-back 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Ghana and Sudan.
The national team coach‚ who replaced Stuart Baxter as Bafana coach last month‚ has made two changes to the squad that was called up for the cancelled friendly international match against Zambia early this month.
"This is a very important match for us as it will determine our way forward in the sense of how we are going to play and approach matches‚" said Ntseki.
Ntseki is yet to take his place on the bench during a Bafana match as the cancelled friendlies against Zambia and later Madagascar prevented him from making his debut as coach.
Bafana have remained inactive since their participation in the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in July and Ntseki will be eager to show the nation what he is about in the game against Mali.
"We could not play a match in the last training camp due to reasons known to everyone‚ but we had good training in anticipation of that game‚" he said.
"But it will be crucial for us to start the journey of the AFCON qualifiers in a positive note.
"What I also want to see from the players is the mental attitude that there are no friendly matches in international football‚ we have to do the best we can to win every fixture because winning can become a habit – and on the other hand so can losing.
"Once we do well against Mali‚ it will stand us in good stead against Ghana and Sudan next month."
Ntseki said the West Africans would give his charges an opportunity to test their mettle against tough opposition.
"Mali will present us with a headache as they are tough opponents – first of all they are above us on the FIFA rankings and they did well at the AFCON recently in Egypt‚" he said.
"But then again we need these type of opponents to improve ourselves. They are very tough customers but we will be up for the challenge.
"I am also honoured to be part of this great match to honour the greatest South African statesman‚ former President Nelson Mandela.
"It is a huge privilege to be leading the team in this annual fixture and I am confident that we will make sure the trophy does not leave these shores.
"All I can do is urge the fans to come in numbers to be part of this event where we honour our icon."
Mali are ranked 11th on the continent – two places above Bafana.
The West Africans are in position 57 compared to South Africa’s 71st spot on Fifa's global standings.
BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD:
Goalkeepers - Darren Keet (Leuven‚ Belgium)‚ Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)‚ Brandon Peterson (Bidvest Wits)
Defenders - Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Buhle Mkhwanazi‚ Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits)‚ Thapelo Morena (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Mosa Lebusa (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Thamsanqa Mkhize (CT City)‚ Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders - Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford‚ England)‚ Thato Mokeke (CT City)‚ Dean Furman (SuperSport United)‚ Lebogang Phiri (Guingamp‚ France)‚ Bongani Zungu (Amiens‚ France)‚ Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Thulani Serero (Al Jazira‚ Abu Dhabi)‚ Keagan Dolly (Montpellier‚ France)
Forwards - Lebo Mothiba (Strasbourg‚ France)‚ Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United)‚ Kermit Erasmus (CT City) Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates)‚ Percy Tau (Club Brugge‚ Belgium)