Bafana captain Pienaar retires
3 October 2012
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund on Tuesday named a 26-man squad to play Poland and Kenya in away internationals this month. The big news, though, was not who was in the squad, but who wasn't, with captain Steven Pienaar announcing his retirement from the international game.
Igesund told the media in Johannesburg that he had received a phone call from Pienaar on Monday evening informing him of his decision to step away from the international game.
"I am disappointed that Steven has retired from the national team," he said. "His presence and leadership is invaluable and could have helped us in our mission for 2013 Afcon and the World Cup qualification, but we must respect his decision.
"When I travel overseas to check on other players, I will try to have a word with him," Igesund added.
In a statement, Pienaar said: "I'm proud to have played for and captained my country. For that, I thank you."
He made his international debut in 2002, earned 57 caps, and played in the World Cups of 2002 in South Korea and 2010 in South Africa.
With Pienaar no longer available for international duty, Igesund named defender Bongani Khumalo captain of Bafana Bafana.
Igesund also included nine players that were not part of his squad for recent matches against Brazil and Mozambique for the forthcoming internationals.
There was, however, just one newcomer: defender Ricardo Nunes, who plays for Slovakian side MSK Zilina.
Born in Johannesburg, Nunes spent his junior career with Portuguese clubs Estoril and Benfica. He played in Greece and Cyprus between 2006 and 2010 before returning to Portugal where he played for Trofense and Portimonense. In January 2012, he signed a two-and-a-half year contract with Zilina.
Delron Buckley, who is now 34 years of age, was rewarded for his good form for Maritzburg United with a recall to the national squad. He has 72 caps to his name.
Others to earn recalls included Luvhengo Mungomeni (Moroka Swallows), Teko Modise (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sifiso Myeni and Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), George Lebese (Kaizer Chiefs), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo FF, Sweden) and Thabo Nthete (Bloemfontein Celtic).
Three players - Thulani Serero, Siboniso Gaxa and Benni McCarthy – were not considered due to injuries.
'Build a team'
With January and the African Cup of Nations not that far off, Igesund said: "The idea now is to build a team for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament and the one to qualify us for Brazil 2014. The thing is, I don't have the luxury of time.
"At the moment, I can't use the same players over and over again. I have to try and shuffle the team around. But in the remaining matches shortly before the start of the tournament, you will see more consistency in squad selection."
The locally-based Bafana Bafana squad members will assemble on Sunday, 7 October, and depart for Warsaw in Poland the following day, while the overseas-based players will travel directly to Warsaw from their various clubs.
The squad will have then two days training before facing Poland on Friday, 12 October.
'A very good side'
"The Poland game presents us with an opportunity to test ourselves against the best. They are a very good side and should help us with our preparations for the 2013 Afcon," Igesund said.
"We should be in a position to measure our progress when we face Kenya four days later. Both matches are very important to our preparations."
BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, (Kaizer Chiefs), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns), Moneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates)
Defenders: Bevan Fransman (SuperSport United), Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic), Siyabonga Sangweni (Orlando Pirates), Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Punch Masenamela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Luvhengo Mungomeni (Moroka Swallows), Bongani Khumalo (PAOK Thessaloniki, Greece), Ricardo Nunes (MSK Zilina, (Slovakia)
Midfielders: Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Sifiso Myeni (Orlando Pirates), George Lebese (Kaizer Chiefs), Teko Modise (Mamelodi Sundowns), Delron Buckley (Maritzburg United), Katlego Mashego (Moroka Swallows), May Mahlangu (Helsingborgs, Sweden), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace, England), Dean Furman (Oldham Athletic, England)Strikers: Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Bernard Parker (Kaizer Chiefs), Dino Ndlovu (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo, Sweden)
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