South Africa and Zimbabwe might be neighbours but when it comes to doing battle on a football field, there’s no love lost between them in a long history of going toe to toe for the full 90 minutes. However, a new man at the helm, a few new faces and a solid Zimbabwe team will surely have fans looking forward to this Fifa World Cup qualifier, at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Friday, 3 September at 3pm, writes Byron Lukas.
The last time these two African nations faced off was in 2013 when Zimbabwe handed Bafana Bafana a 2-1 beating in an international friendly at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto. Goals from former Kaizer Chiefs striker Knowledge Musona and former Mamelodi Sundowns marksman Cuthbert Malajila secured a victory for the Warriors before Bernard Parker snatched a late consolation goal. The two sides have played each other 15 times already, with Zimbabwe leading the way with seven wins, six losses and two draws.
Now, almost nine years later, the two will meet again in a Group G clash that will kickstart a new era for both teams. Speaking of new beginnings, newly appointed Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos indicated that a good result, even a draw with Zimbabwe, will lay the foundation for his side going forward. However, the Belgium tactician was quick to identify that Bafana Bafana will try and go for all three points.
“A draw in Zimbabwe will be a good result; it will give us confidence for the next game [against Ghana]. Because losing especially with a heavy score will not do the players’ confidence any good.
“I hope we will draw and we take it from there. But we will try to win, I am not saying we are going for a draw,” Broos mentioned.
Broos, who took over from Molefi Ntseki after he parted ways with the South African Football Association (Safa), said during a media conference that Bafana Bafana should be ready and up for the challenge as all three teams in their group have already qualified for the Afcon.
“Look, our group is a group with three teams that have qualified for the Afcon [Ethiopia, Ghana and Zimbabwe] and playing six games in three months won’t be easy but we must be professionals and be ready.”
Reducing his 33 man squad to 23, Broos summoned Portugal-based player Thibang Phete from Belenenses and the Kaizer Chiefs duo of Thabani Dube and Sibusiso Mabiliso.
The new additions to the team are Sekhukhune FC’s rising star, Yusuf Maart, and TS Galaxy’s Ethan Brooks who made the final cut. Luther Singh who recently followed in the footsteps of ex-Bafana star Sibusiso Zuma, after he signed for Danish champions FC Copenhagen, also returned to the squad.
Broos also handed the SuperSport United’s goalkeeper Ronwen Williams the captain’s armband while African giants Al Ahly’s newly signed forward, Percy Tau, will lead as the vice-captain.
Williams, who played a significant role in the U23 squad at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year, said that he understands Broos’ vision with the national team and is happy to be a part of it.
“I am humbled to lead as captain, under the tutelage of Coach Hugo Broos. I’m happy to be a part of it, as we pave our way to the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022. The Olympics have taught me many lessons and one of them is to never give up,” Williams mentioned.
Bafana Bafana squad
Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs)
Defenders: Sydney Mobbie (Mamelodi Sundowns), Rushine De Reuck (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thapelo Morena (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyanda Xulu (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel), Thibang Phete (Belenenses FC, Portugal), Thabani Dube (Kaizer Chiefs), Sibusiso Mabiliso (Kaizer Chiefs)
Midfielders: Sipho Mbule (SuperSport United), Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport United), Mothobi Mvala (Mamelodi Sundowns), Yusuf Maart (Sekhukhune FC), Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy), Njabulo Blom (Kaizer Chiefs)
Strikers: Thabiso Kutumela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Maritzburg United), Gift Links (Aarhus GF, Denmark), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka FC), Victor Letsoalo (Bloemfontein Celtics), Percy Tau (Brighton & Hove Albion, England), Luther Singh (F.C Copenhagen, Denmark).
Meanwhile, the Northerners had to rearrange their 29-man squad, after Aston Villa midfielder Marvelous Nakamba and several other key players couldn’t make the trip due to the United Kingdom imposing stringent Covid-19 travel restrictions when travelling from red-listed countries.
Of the 29 players picked, 14 are either currently playing in the DSTtv Premiership or have played in South Africa before. Tino Kadewere (Lyon) is expected to lead the attack for the Warriors with Kaizer Chiefs forward Khama Billiat along with Knowledge Musona will look to cause Bafana Bafana’s defence some serious problems. Prince Dube (Azam FC ) is not part of the team due to a recent injury he picked up.
Goalkeepers: Washington Arubi (Marumo Gallants), Talbert Shumba (Free State Stars), Martin Mapisa (Zamora CF, Spain)
Defenders: Divine Lunga (Mamelodi Sundowns), Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport United), Alec Mudimu (Torpedo Kutaisi, Georgia), Takudzwa Chimwemwe, Kevin Moyo (both Nkana FC, Zambia), Godknows Murirwa (Dynamos, Zimbabwe), William Stima (FC Platinum, Zimbabwe)
Midfielders: Marshall Munesti (Stade de Reims, France), Perfect Chikwende (Simba SC, Tanzania), Thabani Kamusoko, Tafadzwa Rusike (both Zesco United, Zambia), Jonah Fabisch (Hamburger SV, Germany), Butholezwe Ncube (AmaZulu), Marvelous Nakamba (Aston Villa), Kuda Mahachi (SuperSport United), Khama Billiat (Kaizer Chiefs), Blessing Sarupinda (Sekhukhune United), Silas Songani (FC Platinum, Zimbabwe) Farai Madhananga (Marumo Gallants), Ishamel Wadi (JDR Stars)
Strikers: Knowledge Musona (Al Tai, Saudi Arabia), Tino Kadewere (Lyon, France), Terrence Dzvukamanja (Orlando Pirates), Knox Mutizwa (Golden Arrows).
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