By FOCUS REPORTER
Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane has announced a 23-man squad to face the national team of the United States of America (USA) in the 16th edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge.
The match will be played on Wednesday, November 17 at the Cape Town Stadium.
The match sees the absence of experienced campaigners like Captain Aaron Mokoena, Katlego Mphela as well as Macbeth Sibaya. Defender Bongani Khumalo has been left out due to injury.
Mosimane has recalled defenders Siyanda Xulu of Mamelodi Sundowns, Keegan Ritchie (Moroka Swallows) and Bevan Fransman (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel).
Midfielder Matthew Pattison also returns to the national team since the pre-2010 FIFA World Cup training camp in Durban earlier this year.
“This is a friendly match so I will be trying to have a look at other players and for that to happen I had to leave out some of the regulars in the team. But most of them have been with us before, so it’s all about continuity and staying on track with our Vision 2014. On the other hand, friendly matches are a big challenge because as much as you try to make changes, it means you have to tamper with your winning combinations. But then again these are the challenges that exist in this game, we have to strike a balance but also not to lose focus of our vision of slowly bringing in young players,” said coach Pitso Mosimane.
The only new-comer is England-based Davide Somma. The Leeds United striker gets a call-up after rave reviews following his prolific strike rate at his club. The 25-year old Somma was born in Johannesburg. He plays as a striker while most of his early career he played as a winger. Somma moved to America as a 12 year old before finding his way to England.
“It’s important to give him a chance to see what he is made of, but at the same time I don’t want to put him under pressure and put it to him that he is the answer to our scoring problems. I just want to give him a chance to play for South Africa and increase our pool of strikers. He has been scoring in almost every match so we have to bring him in and I hope it works out for him,” added Mosimane.
SAFA CEO Leslie Sedibe has reiterated the Association’s pledge to be a caring organisation.
“The Nelson Mandela Challenge is a prestigious occasion in the international football calendar. It is our commitment as Safa to always invite countries of high stature in the international football family. This time around we have invited the United States of America and we are confident that this fixture will be a spectacular event of international importance. While the SABC will be broadcasting the match live here in South Africa, ESPN will televise the game to the international audience; and once more we are presented with an opportunity as South Africa to consolidate the international exposure that we achieved during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The highlight of the Nelson Mandela Challenge will be the presentation of a one million rand cheque by the two captains to the Nelson Mandela Childrens’ Fund. It is in this spirit that we urge the people of Cape Town to fill the stadium to capacity,” said Sedibe.
The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund expressed their gratitude to SAFA for the donation, saying it will go a long way in putting smiles on the faces of many disadvantaged children.
“The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund is also happy to know that the beautiful game of soccer remains an active ally for the continued safety, protection and care of children. The well being of children is a cause most dear to our Founder Nelson Mandela. There can be no better future for any society than its children. The 15 years of partnership between the NMCF and SAFA are as old as our country’s democracy. This is a legacy we hope to build in partnership with the football community and its corporate sponsors. The joint message that this partnership brings at every given opportunity of staging the Nelson Mandela Challenge every year, is that the best that can be done for children today will help them learn to give back to society tomorrow. This makes us the architects of a brighter future we would like our children to inherit,” said Acting CEO and Programmes’ Director of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund Moipone Buda-Ramatlo.
Tickets for the double header are already on sale at Computicket and Shoprite-Checkers outlets countrywide. They cost R50 only for tier three (level three) at the stadium, and R100 for tiers one and two (levels one and two).
The Bafana Bafana squad to face USA:
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates)
Defenders: Siyanda Xulu, Matty Pattison (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Siboniso Gaxa (Lierse FC, Belgium), Bevan Fransman (Hapoel Tel Aviv FC, Israel), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Keagan Ritchie (Moroka Swallows), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk, Belgium), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows)
Midfielders: Andile Jali, Teko Modise (both Pirates), Thanduyise Khuboni (Arrows), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Daylon Claasen (Lierse FC, Germany), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fullam, England), Sphiwe Tshabalala, Reneilwe Letsholonyane (both Chiefs), Kermit Erasmus (SuperSport) Sthembiso Ngcobo (Chiefs), Bernard Parker (FC Twente, Netherlands) and Somma Davide (Leeds United, England)
Strikers: Sthembiso Ngcobo (Chiefs), Bernard Parker (FC Twente, Netherlands) and Somma Davide (Leeds United, England)