SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

3 January 2013

South Africa: Afcon 2013 - Igesund Opts for Experience

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund's squad for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, kicking off in South Africa on 19 January, contained few surprises when he announced it in Johannesburg on Sunday. Experience appears to be the name of the game.

After cutting down his squad to the tournament line-up, Igesund told reporters: "It's very unfortunate that I could not have all the players in the squad as CAF (Confederation of African Football) rules stipulate that only 23 will be needed for the tournament.

"No matter how much we try, we can't please all the people in the selection process, but I believe we have chosen the best that will represent this country well in Afcon 2013."

'We had the best of the best in camp'

Igesund explained: "We had the best of the best in the camp, with excellent players competing against each other for positions, but at the end of the day we had to cut down the squad to that stipulated by the governing body. However, those players who are not in the squad should not despair as they are all on stand-by in case of injuries."

Belgium-based Darren Keet missed out on a place as Igesund went with three South African-based goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Wayne Sandilands and Senzo Meyiwa.

However, Bongani Khumalo, who plays his football in Greece, was named captain. Other defenders joining him in the squad were Siyabonga Sangweni, Anele Ngcongca, Tsepo Masilela, Siboniso Gaxa, Thabo Nthethe and Thabo Matlaba, while Ricardo Nunes, Siyanda Xulu and Bevan Fransman missed out.

Midfield

The midfield, the most hotly contested part of the team, features Kagisho Dikgacoi, Dean Furman, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Oupa Manyisa, Siphiwe Tshabalala, May Mahlangu, Thulani Serero, Lerato Chabangu and Thuso Phala. Those who missed out include Thanduyise Khuboni, Teko Modise, Andile Jali, Daine Klate, Sifiso Myeni and Delron Buckley.

Rising star Ayanda Patosi, of Belgian club Lokeren, was not considered because of an ankle injury.

Up front, Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie, Lehlohonolo Majoro and Katlego Mphela make up the strikers.

Support

Igesund thanked the South African public for their support and called on them to get behind the national team in the lead up to and during Afcon 2013.

"This is not my national team; I am just the driver, so I would like to thank the public, including the media, for their continued support of the squad that has been picked up as they represent all of us. We are now embarking on a long and difficult mission and we cannot do it alone; your support will be very crucial to see us through," he said.

"Now that the final squad has been selected, the focus is now on the tournament. Real and hard work begins for all of us. I am now able to instil my philosophy and I am confident by the time the tournament starts, I believe we will be ready and playing as a unit."

Friendly

Bafana's first assignment of 2013 will be an international friendly against Norway at the Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday, 8 January.

They next face Algeria, also an Afcon finalist, on 12 January at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto. After that, it is down to the tournament proper.

Playing in Group A, South Africa play Cape Verde in their opening game on 19 January at the FNB Stadium. They take on Angola on 23 January at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, followed by their last group game against Morocco on 27 January at the same venue.

BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Pirates)

Defenders: Bongani Khumalo (PAOK, Greece) , Siyabonga Sangweni (Orlando Pirates), Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk, Belgium), Siboniso Gaxa (Kaizer Chiefs) , Tshepo Masilela (Kaizer Chiefs), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders: Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace, Eng), Dean Furman (Oldham Athletic, Eng), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), May Mahlangu (Helsingborg, Sweden), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam, Netherlands), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Thuso Phala (Platinum Stars) , Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)

Strikers: Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo, Sweden), Lehlohonolo Majoro (Kaizer Chiefs)

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