By FOCUS REPORTER
Bafana Bafana had an almost full complement of players at their first training session yesterday at the Royal Marang Hotel grounds in Rustenburg. The squad is in Rustenburg to face Kenya in an international friendly match that will be played at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on tomorrow night. Kick-off is at 8.35pm
23 players reported for national team duty, with only Anele Ngcongca still to report for camp. Ngcongca played for his Belgium club on Sunday and was expected in camp on Monday night. Kermit Erasmus has been withdrawn from the squad due to a respiratory tract infection and has since been sent home. His place has been taken by Ajax Cape Town striker Thembinkosi “Terror” Fanteni, who is also expected to arrive with Ngcongca in camp.
“I am sorry for Kermit, it is really unfortunate that he can’t be with us on this camp as these the kind of matches where young players like him need to be introduced. We had really hoped that at the very least he would be with us in camp even if he does not get to play, but I am happy on the other hand that Pienaar is seems to have recovered from the concussion that he had at his club last week. The midfielder is still being monitored by the team doctor and his being here also shows his commitment to the course,” said coach, Pitso Mosimane.
Mosimane added that things are improving on the list of players getting game time at their clubs, which is very encouraging.
“The weekly report on players tells me that of the nine overseas-based players currently in camp, six of them played in the past week. That is a good but it can be better, I can’t wait for the day when all the players get game time. When they play it makes our job a bit easier in the national team, for instance this week we have only two training sessions because it’s a very short camp. An even greater plus for us is that Davide Somma scored twice this past week against Hull City and Coventry, and this augurs well for the national team. This is our first match of the year, and a very important one for us as it comes before the 2012 AFCON qualifier against Egypt next month – whatever we do this week we must have Egypt in mind, so we can escalate our preparations when the time comes,” said Mosimane.
Injured left back Tsepo Masilela is also staying at the same hotel with Bafana Bafana to continue a knee rehabilitation process under the watchful eye of team doctor Ephraim Nematswerani and the physical trainer Francesco Gonzalez. This came after an agreement between his club Macabbi Haifa and the national team with all the expenses paid for by the club.
Mosimane also took the time to wish Madiba well and also hoped the National Cricket team would do well in the upcoming Cricket World Cup.
“Madiba is an inspiration to all of us, he has been a big supporter of all the national teams so we can only wish him a speedy recovery. As for the Proteas, they have shown great support to us during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and we would like to say to them they must go out there and prove the critics wrong. They are a great side as we have seen recently in the five-match ODI series they won against India and we hope they can continue from there,” said the coach.
Captain Aaron Mokoena has warned his teammates and South Africans in general not to look at Kenya’s 127th placing on the FIFA World Ranking list and underestimate them.
“Kenya is not as weak as many people think. Every country that faces South Africa just wants to do well and we have to guard against taking them lightly because they are lower than us on the world rankings list. We are using this match to get our rhythm back so that when we face Egypt we are ready for a good fight,” said Mokoena.