PSL's top goal scorer back with Bafana
18 May 2012
After two years out of South Africa's national team, striker Siyabonga Nomvethe has forced his way back into the Bafana Bafana squad, thanks to his superb form in the PSL, where he has scored 20 goals this season, eight more than the next highest scorer.
With Nomvethe to the fore, Moroka Swallows are the PSL's leading scorers, and it's between them and Orlando Pirates for title honours with one match remaining in the season.
He has been capped 79 times and netted 16 goals. Bafana's biggest problem has for a long time been its goal scoring, so it makes sense to restore Nomvethe to the national team, even at the age of 34.
He is part of a 27-man line-up that was named on Thursday in Johannesburg for South Africa's upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia and Botswana, and a friendly international against Gabon.
Bafana face the Ethiopians on 3 June in Rustenburg. On 9 June, they play Botswana in Gabarone, while the friendly against Gabon takes place on 15 June in Johannesburg.
The league's second highest goal scorer, Eleazar Rodgers of Santos, is one of four new caps in the 27-man squad, which once again underlines the search for a consistent goal scorer for the national team.
Nomvethe and Rodgers are joined up front by new cap Tokelo Rantie of Orlando Pirates and the incumbent Katlego Mphela, who have netted seven and 10 goals respectively this season.
Winger called up
On the back of a strong season by Free State Stars, which will see the team finish no lower than sixth in the league, Stars' winger Mzikakiyise Mashaba has also been called up.
There was good news for the experience of the team and for its midfield strength when Kaizer Chiefs' Siphiwe Tshabalala and Reneilwe Letsholonyane were named in the squad after previously having been sidelined by injury.
The squad includes eight overseas-based players: captain Steven Pienaar, goalkeeper Darren Keet, defenders Bongani Khumalo, Tsepo Masilela, Anele Ngcongca, and midfielders May Mahlangu and Thulani Serero.
"It is important to keep the balance of youth and experience in the team because we are also preparing the team beyond 2014. We have also acknowledged and rewarded most of the players who have done well in the PSL this season," coach Pitso Mosimane told the media at the announcement of the squad.
Looking ahead to Bafana's first match, he said: "Ethiopia is a very and stubborn team that doesn't give up and give in to pressure.
"They have a very quick team up front and a very compact in defence, but we think we have the ammunition and the players to unlock this ultra-defensive approach.
"We have played against such defences against the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone recently, and we managed to unlock them at particular times. We hope the experience of those two matches will help to us unlock the Ethiopian defence.
"It is important to win the game at all costs. At this point in time the key is to win the game and not focus on playing very well. The country deserves a win," he concluded.
Bafana is ranked 67th in the latest Fifa world rankings, while Ethiopia is in 138th place.
BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns), Darren Keet (KV Kortrijk FC)
Defenders: Punch Masenamela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tsepo Masilela (Getafe), Eric Mathoho (Bloemfontein Celtic), Siboniso Gaxa (Kaizer Chiefs), Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Siyabonga Sangweni (Orlando Pirates), Bongani Khumalo (Tottenham Hotspur) Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk)
Midfielders: Andile Jali (Orlando Pirates), May Mahlangu (Helsingsborg), Thulani Serero (Ajax Cape Town), Steven Pienaar (Everton, captain), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Mzikayise Mashaba (Free State Stars), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), Teko Modise (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebohang Mokoena (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Strikers: Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows), Tokelo Rantie (Orlando Pirates), Eleazor Rodgers (Santos)
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