BAFANA Bafana landed in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose at around 10am today after a marathon journey across the expansive South and Central American continents that took the team more than 28 hours to traverse.
The team left OR Tambo Airport on Monday morning but despite looking a bit weary, the team which was met at San Jose International Airport by Costa Rican FA officials and a heavy local media contingent looked in high spirits and ready for the challenges.
Bafana play Costa Rica on Friday, October 9 at 4am at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica, before heading to nearby Honduras where they take on their counterparts on Tuesday, October 13. That match starts at midnight South African time and will be beamed on SABC as is with the Friday game against Costa Rica.
Both coach Shakes Mashaba and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune who fielded questions from the media concurred that despite the punishing travelling schedule, they were ready to square up against one of the fastest rising teams in the world.
“We are excited to be here and have heard that Costa Rica have named their most possible powerful squad but I am glad because my boys always relishes playing against the world’s giants.
“I have brought a very exciting group of players who are eager to leave a lasting impression on this continent and come Thursday, fans should be in for a real treat,” said Mashaba whose squad was met by South Africa’s most overseas players who flew straight to San Jose, among them FC Twente, Kamohelo Mokotjo.
The team will be bolstered by the Orlando Pirates trio of Thabo Matlaba, Mpho Makola and Thamsanqa Gabuza who will join the rest of the squad on Thursday but will most likely miss the Costa Rican game.
“Everyone is excited to be here and matches against countries like Costa Rica are what bring the best in most professional players. I saw them play Brazil last month and the truth is they are a formidable side that will test our mental strength,” said goalkeeper Khune.
Khune said they followed closely top players like goalkeeper Keylor Navas of RealMadrid and captain, Bryan Ruiz.
Striker Tokelo Rantie has withdrawn from the team after suffering a recurring thigh injury which has sidelined him from Bournemouth squad in the past few days.
Bafana Bafana’s updated squad below:
Goalkeepers: Jackson MABOKGWANE Mpumalanga Aces (SA), Itumeleng KHUNE Kaizer Chiefs (SA), Ronwen WILLIAMS SuperSport United (SA)
Defenders: Anele NGCONGCA Troyes (France), Thabo MATLABA Orlando Pirates (SA), Mzikayise MASHABA Mamelodi Sundowns (SA), Erick MATHOHO Kaizer Chiefs SA), Clayton DANIELS Supersport United (SA), Rivaldo COETZEE Ajax Cape Town (SA), Thulani HLATSHWAYO Bidvest Wits SA), Siyabonga NHLAPO Bidvest Wits (SA), Mosa LEBUSA Ajax Cape Town (SA)
Midfielders: Andile JALI KV Oostende (BEL), Dean FURMAN SuperSport United (SA), Bongani ZUNGU Mamelodi Sundowns (SA), Kamohelo MOKOTJO FC Twente (NED), Jabulani SHONGWE Bidvest Wits (SA), George LEBESE Kaizer Chiefs (SA), Mpho MAKOLA Orlando Pirates (SA), Ayanda PATOSI Lokeren (BEL), Mandla MASANGO Randers (Denmark)
Strikers: Sibusiso VILAKAZI Bidvest Wits (SA), Thulani SERERO Ajax Amsterdam (NED) and Thamsanqa GABUZA Orlando Pirates (SA)