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Molefi Ntseki pulls few rabbits out of the Bafana hat

Itumeleng Khune makes a return to the Bafana fold. / Gerhard Duraan / BackpagePix
Itumeleng Khune makes a return to the Bafana fold. / Gerhard Duraan / BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki raised eyebrows in more ways than one and put his head on the block with a number of peculiar additions to the team and one glaring omission.

The SA national team will take on Sao Tome and Principe in back-to-back qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) later this month. The first leg will be at the FNB Stadium on March 27 (5pm) while the second leg will be played at the Estadio Nacional 12 de Julho in Sao Tome on March 31.

Ntseki announced a 25-man squad that included a few surprises, such as the return of Itumeleng Khune and Andile Jali, while Gladwin Shitolo, Thabo Matlaba, George Maluleka and Thabiso Kutumela got rare call-ups.

The omission of midfield supremo Bongani Zungu also came as a shock as the player has been doing well for his team Amiens SC in France.

Ntseki explained that the player selections came from a pool of 50 players.

"The selection was done by all Safa coaches who form the selection and scouting committee. We had an eight-hour selection meeting and ended with 50 players," Ntseki said.

"The number had to come down to 25. In each and every position we have five players so that if ever we experience injuries or loss of form, we tried to get a balance of players with experience.

"We need the right rhythm and tactical cohesion in the team."

The former Bloemfontein Celtic assistant coach also tried to explain the exclusion of Zungu who had a superb match against the cash-rich PSG in a 4-4 draw last month.

"Zungu has been in and out due to injuries and the last camp he was also injured.

"We felt we should give him some time to spend with the club during this Fifa week and hopefully by the end of the season he will be fit and ready to be considered for Bafana."

Bafana squad

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Chiefs), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport), Brandon Peterson (Wits)

Defenders: Erick Mathoho (Chiefs), Buhle Mkhwanazi (Wits), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Wits), Gladwin Shitolo (Arrows), Sifiso Hlanti (Wits), Innocent Maela (Pirates), Mosa Lebusa (Sundowns), Reeve Frosler (Chiefs)

Midfielders: Thabo Matlaba (Leopards) , Dean Furman (SuperSport), Lebohang Phiri (Guingamp, France), Andile Jali (Sundowns), Themba Zwane (Sundowns), Thembinkosi Lorch (Pirates), Percy Tau (Club Brugge, Belgium), Thulani Serero (Al Jazira FC, Abu Dhabi), George Maluleka (Chiefs), Lebogang Manyama (Chiefs), Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport)

Forwards: Lebo Mothiba (Strasbourg, France), Bradley Grobler (SuperSport), Thabiso Kutumela (Maritzburg)

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