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About 80% of Bafana squad did not play in 2022-23: Ramoreboli on Cosafa third place

Bafana Bafana celebrate with well-known fan 'Dlamini' after winning the 2023 Cosafa Cup third-place playoff match against Malawi on penalties at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban on July 16 2023.
Bafana Bafana celebrate with well-known fan 'Dlamini' after winning the 2023 Cosafa Cup third-place playoff match against Malawi on penalties at King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban on July 16 2023.
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

The biggest challenge for the understrength Bafana Bafana that earned bronze at the 2023 Cosafa Cup with a penalties win against Malawi on Sunday, was how few players in Morena Ramoreboli’s squad played regularly for their clubs in 2022-23, the coach said. 

Assembling a squad where so few — apart from some exceptions like Lyle Lakay, Rowan Human, Tshegofatso Mabasa and Katlego Mohamme — seem likely to make a front-line Bafana line-up, seems to defeat the object of a tournament that should be used to groom players for Hugo Broos’s senior Bafana.

It poses questions about the level of seriousness the South African Football Association (Safa) put into negotiating with Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs to have emerging players with genuine potential in Durban. 

Some of the players Ramoreboli had at his disposal being roped in as a third-string coach when he won the 2021 Cosafa Cup in Gqeberha — like Rushine de Reuck, Ethan Brooks, Nyiko Mobbie and Monnapule Saleng — did end up in Broos’s first team soon afterwards. 

Ramoreboli, though, chose not to bite the Safa hand that feeds him, and to rather identify the silver lining — that this year’s tournament gave some of the forgotten men of PSL clubs, and some not known yet, the chance to put their names forward for first team action. 

“The standard of football in the southern region is growing. And it says a lot to us that we also need to keep our level of competition high,” Ramoreboli said, asked about the challenges his team faced in the tournament won by Zambia in Sunday night’s final against Lesotho (1-0). 

“W need to understand that some of the guys here come from a background of maybe not kicking a football for the entire season. 

“Something I need to applaud them for was the character and attitude, and the lesson from this is nothing beats preparation. 

“We tried our level best with the challenges we had to push the team in the right direction. And third spot, to be honest, yes we are happy but it’s not a true reflection of how hard we worked.” 

The coach said some players in Durban did put their hands up for playing regularly at club level, and perhaps even Bafana’s front-line selection.

“We took almost 80% of guys [in this squad] who were not playing for a whole season. But I think we wanted to expose them and say to clubs, ‘Here are guys with ability and talent, so let’s give them the opportunity’. 

“And I believe clubs will come for them. They have done well. 

“Mohamme did so well. I believe if there’s a future centre-left [defender] in the country he deserves an opportunity maybe at Mamelodi Sundowns or somewhere else. 

“We gave them an opportunity, we tried our best to help them with their confidence. 

“It was not easy. Today you could see someone like [Royal AM midfielder Shadrack] Kobedi was struggling in the first 45 minutes. If you are not playing you lose confidence. 

“Like Tshegofatso [Mabasa, the tournament’s joint Golden Boot winner with Zambia’s Albert Kangwanda, with three goals] — as much as he scored, let’s be honest he’s not played a full season. 

“That’s why we say, as much as we throw stones at the association, they’ve looked after these guys to give them an opportunity to come and play in a tournament where everybody could see them.” 


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