Shakes Mashaba has named his starting eleven for South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Challenge game against Ivory Coast in Nelspruit on Sunday
Jackson Mabokgwane will start in South Africa’s goal, with Siyabonga Nhlapo, Chris Komane, Kwanda Mngonyama and Patrick Phungwayo the defensive choices ahead of him.
The big surprise is to see three Chippa United players in the starting lineup. Then again the Eastern Cape team has been flying high in the PSL, so are duly rewarded, particularly since Kaizer Chiefs withdrew their players.
Mamelodi Sundowns’ Bongani Zungu and Themba Zwane also get the nod. David Zulu and the PSL’s hot marksman, Puleng Tlolane will be the strikers.
Despite a week dominated by player withdrawals, Mashaba looks to be up for South Africa‘s challenge against an Ivory Coast outfit picked from locally-based players.
The fixture is a repeat of the 2011 edition of the Mandela Challenge, where the game ended in a 1-1 stalemate at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Due to the game not falling on an official Fifa date, clubs are not obliged to release their players for the friendly.
Eric Mathoho and Brilliant Khuzwayo, who were both part of Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign, were the first to be withdrawn by Kaizer Chiefs.
The Soweto giants cited a packed fixture list in December as the reason for the withdrawals.
That sparked other clubs into action. Bidvest Wits were next to haul Thulani Hlatshwayo and Jabu Shongwe from the squad.
Chippa United refused for David Zulu to take part, citing a minor injury that could be aggravated, while Oupa Manyisa was pulled by Orlando Pirates.
Mashaba, however, appears to be upbeat at the opportunity to cast his eye over some PSL players he may not have seen in action before.
“It’s not going to be an easy walk on the park and there’s got to be grit, sweat and all this,” Mashaba summed up before the game on Sunday.
“Cote D’Ivoire are one of the best footballing nations in the continent and their junior teams have done very well.”
The Elephants have also brought a depleted side down to South Africa, with few to no recognisable names in their midst.
Added to that is the fact that their coach, Herve Renard, appears to be on his way out of the job, after falling out with the Ivorian football federation.
In his squad, Mashaba has plenty of fire power upfront and even has Fagrie Lakay on the bench.
Lakaya has been part of Mashaba’s Afcon qualfiers and knows what the coach wants. Meanwhile, Dumisani Msibi, who recently completed his matric year, is also on the bench.
Tlolane, the PSL’s top-scorer with seven goals, will be the man to watch. A good showing could earn the young striker a call-up to the national team for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which is less than two months away.
South Africa starting line-up: Mabokgwane, Nhlapho, Phungwayo, Komane, Mngonyama, Sangweni, Zungu, Zwane, Wana, Tlolane, D Zulu.
Bench: Msibi, Mobara, Nyauza, Mbekile, Lakay, Lamola, Ngubo