Cosafa Cup a stepping stone for players – Mkhalele
World Cup qualifiers team to be named in a few weeks
Bafana Bafana assistant coach Helman Mkhalele has urged players to use the Cosafa Cup to audition for places in the team ahead of the Fifa 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers in September and October.
Mkhalele is in charge of the team in the absence of head coach Hugo Broos, who is in his native Belgium to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
The 51-year-old 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning midfielder said the technical team would consider the players that are part of the annual tournament when they announce the squad for the World Cup qualifiers in a few weeks.
Bafana are in a group which also has Botswana, Lesotho and eSwatini. Mkhalele's charges open their account against Botswana at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today (5pm).
“We hope that these players will make use of the opportunity which they get and impress the technical team. We have six games that we need to play in our World Cup group. This tournament will prepare the players for the qualifiers, and I hope that they will respond positively. We want to have a bigger pool of players by the time we play in the qualifiers. And yes, we want to win this tournament, and we take it seriously," said Mkhalele.
He said that the coach would consider the players at the Cosafa, as Bafana will not play again before the World Cup qualifiers. “Our main objective is to make sure that we build a strong team for the World Cup qualifiers. The idea is to give more players international experience and prepare them for the future," Added Mkhalele.
Bafana attacking midfielder Siyethemba Sithebe is one of those players hoping to impress the new technical team. The 28-year-old AmaZulu star said he would grab the opportunity with both hands.
“I am excited to be part of the team and cannot wait to represent my country. The possibility of playing in the World Cup qualifiers and the World Cup finals next year motivates us to do well for the country. Maybe some of us will get call-ups for the World Cup qualifiers... you never know. We are motivated to be here, and we are a young team," said Sithebe.
Meanwhile, Mkhalele has been forced to call up replacements after players from Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs withdrew from the squad.
Goalkeepers: Veli Mothwa, Lincoln Vyver.
Defenders: Rushine de Reuck, Nyiko Mobbie, Njabulo Ngcobo, Sifiso Ngobeni, Basil Mphahlele, Austin Dube.
Midfielders: Sphelele Mkhulise, Ethan Books, Siyethemba Sithebe, Kgaogelo Sekgota, Tiklas Thutlwa, Yusuf Maart, Bright Ndlovu, Kagiso Malinga, Siyanda Msani.
Forwards: Thabang Sibanyoni, Masilake Pholongo, Monnapule Saleng.