Molefi Ntseki will take charge of Bafana Bafana for the first time when they face Mali in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Sunday, SoccerClub writer DEAN WORKMAN has highlighted five talking points ahead of the encounter.
Molefi stepped in to replace Stuart Baxter after the former Kaizer Chiefs coach stepped down from the head coach role after a quarter-final finish at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The 49-year-old, who has been involved in the South African Football Associations structures across various youth age groups and served as Baxter’s assistant, was initially appointed as caretaker coach before eventually being appointed in the role permanently a few weeks later.
Ntseki was supposed to have the chance to take the team in his first match in the previous international break, but both Zambia and the Madagascar pulled out of the games due to the Xenophobic violence that was ongoing in South Africa.
Now that Bafana will finally be back in action, SoccerClub has picked out the five main talking points ahead of the game.
Ntseki to set the tone
The new Bafana coach will be looking to set a marker out for his tenure in the game against Mali. With bigger things to come in the 2022 Fifa World Cup and 2021 Afcon qualifiers, Ntseki will hope to breed some confidence in his side who are looking to build on their last eight finish at the 2019 Afcon.
Grobler to carry league form into the national team
The SuperSport United striker has been the form man in the Absa Premiership this season as he has bagged seven goals and three assists in 10 games across all competitions.
Grobler worked his way back into the Bafana set up last season but suffered another injury which saw him miss out of the 2019 Afcon, however he is back fit and will be looking to make a statement against Mali.
Williams to make statement after Khune’s injury setback
The SuperSport goalkeeper was one of South Africa’s best performers at the 2019 Afcon after he picked up the 2018/19 Absa Premiership Goalkeeper of the Season.
With Williams hitting the peak age of a footballer at the 27-year-old will have another opportunity to try and cement his spot as the national teams’ number one while Itumeleng Khune again watches from home after suffering an injury set back with Chiefs.
Mali to prove a test
The West African nation will prove a stern test for Bafana, and they will come into the encounter with a sense of belief after topping group E at the 2019 Afcon, four points ahead of second place Tunisia.
They may have exited the tournament in the first knockout stage against the Ivory Coast, but they largely dominated their opposition in the 1-0 loss courtesy of a Wilfired Zaha goal.
The South Africans will need to be fully focused for what will be a good first test under Ntseki.
Withdrawals offer others a big opportunity
A number of big players such as Lebo Mothiba, Bongani Zungu and Thamsanqa Mkhize all pulled out of the squad in the build-up to the encounter.
Although Bafana will miss their quality, their absence will provide players such as Grobler, Thato Mokeke, Kermit Erasmus and Thulani Serero a chance to come in and stake a claim for a spot in the team moving forward.
You may also like