SoccerClub writer BYRON LUKAS provides insight into the top-five players he expects to stand out for Bafana Bafana when they take on Zimbabwe in the second round of the World Cup qualifiers at the FNB Stadium on Thursday, 11 November at 9pm.
Since the takeover of Belgian tactician Hugo Broos, South Africa has had some kind of swagger in their style of play, whether playing from the back, catching their opponents with fast counter-attacks or pressing high to force an error.
After collecting 10 points from four matches, Bafana Bafana sit firmly at the top of Group G. However, fellow West African side Ghana are just one point behind them, adding more pressure on South Africa as they prepare to take on the Warriors who are rock bottom after collecting only one point from four matches, while Ethiopia is in third with three points.
To kick off my top-five players that I expect to stand out in Bafana’s next match, I have to highlight a famous quote by one of Britain’s most successful football managers, Sir Alex Ferguson: “Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”
Speaking of defence, Mamelodi Sundowns defender Rushine De Reuck comes in at No 5 as he will play a vital role for South Africa at the back. Even though the 25-year-old has not played since Bafana’s last international game against Ethiopia in October, Broos has expressed his confidence in De Reuck, indicating that he has no reason to doubt his qualities.
Slotting in at No 4 has to be SuperSport United shotstopper Ronwen Williams, who has been in excellent form for club and country since he was handed the captaincy by Broos.
Williams, whose name will probably be first on the team sheet, will earn his 25th cap for the senior team. He will overtake three former Bafana Bafana goalkeepers in Brian Baloyi, Moeneeb Josephs and Rowen Fernandez.
At No 3 we have another SuperSport United player, midfielder Jesse Donn, who has been called up to replace injured Sekhukhune United midfielder Yusuf Maart. I’m disappointed over Maart’s injury, but the young Donn has proven that he has got what it takes to perform at the highest level. His work rate and midfield presence reminds me of when Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay burst on to the scene for the first time. Donn was in the previous Bafana squad but did not feature.
Sitting at No 2, is Baroka FC forward Evidence Makgopa, who scored in Bafana’s 3-1 victory over Ethiopia. Makgopa will cause some problems for the Zimbabwe defence, especially with his off-the-ball runs and accuracy in the final third. The speedy striker has already represented SA at the Olympic Games with the U23 side in June.
OK, I must admit this was the easiest pick for me. Coming in at No 1, is a player who has shown he can play at the highest level and that the No 10 role is still effective in South African football. And, he is … Kaizer Chiefs star Keagan Dolly, who is back with the national team following his great form for Amakhosi this season. Although he will come up against club teammate and member of the most famous striking forces, Khama ‘CBD’ Billiat, Dolly is definitely my top pick to produce the goods for Bafana Bafana as they look to maintain top spot before they take on Ghana on Sunday, 14 November at 9pm (SA time).
Bafana Bafana squad
Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Veli Mothwa (AmaZulu), Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs).
Defenders: Nyiko Mobbie (Sekhukhune United), Njabulo Blom (Kaizer Chiefs), Siyanda Xulu (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel), Rushine De Reuck (Mamelodi Sundowns), Njabulo Ngcobo (Kaizer Chiefs), Terrence Mashego (Cape Town City), Tercious Malepe (AmaZulu), Thibang Phete (Belenenses SAD, Portugal).
Midfielders: Sphelelo Sithole (Belenenses SAD, Portugal), Thabani Zuke (Golden Arrows), Ethan Brooks (TS Galaxy), Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport United), Mduduzi Mdantsane (Cape Town City), Keagan Dolly (Kaizer Chiefs).
Forwards: Fagrie Lakay (Cape Town City), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka FC), Victor Letsoalo (Royal AM), Percy Tau (Al Ahly, Egypt), Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Maritzburg United), Pule Mmodi (Golden Arrows).
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