South Africa’s final World Cup squad

1 June 2010

Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira announced South Africa’s final World Cup squad of 23 players in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning, and answered the question on the lips of local football fans when he omitted striker Benni McCarthy.

Also missing out are goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez, defenders Bryce Moon and Innocent Mdledle, and midfielder Franklin Cale.

“Put your heads up. Life goes on,” Parreira told the players that had missed out. “We are only allowed to take 23, but thank you very much for your efforts, your attitude and commitment.

“A team is when somebody shares the same vision, whether you are playing or on the bench.”

All-time leading goal scorer

McCarthy is South Africa’s all-time leading goal scorer, having scored 32 times in 78 appearances for Bafana Bafana. Yet questions had surrounded the fitness of the 32-year-old in the lead-up to the announcement of the World Cup squad.

When he failed to get a run in Bafana’s 5-0 thrashing of Guatemala on Monday night, the writing was on the wall. On Tuesday morning, coach Parreira, who said there was nothing wrong with the striker after the Guatemalan friendly, confirmed what many had expected to happen when he axed the West Ham star.

The omission of Rowen Fernandez was a surprise. Listening to radio talk shows just before the announcement of the squad, the general consensus appeared to be that Maritzburg United goalkeeper Shuaib Walters would miss out, but it was the experienced Fernandez who failed to make the cut.

Germany-based Fernandez had fought hard to get back to fitness after being injured in February, but Parreira opted for the uncapped Walters over Fernandez and his 23 internationals.

Local over foreign selection

Defender Bryce Moon, who currently plys his trade in Greece for PAOK on loan from Panathinaikos, lost out to Siboniso Gaxa of Mamelodi Sundowns at right back.

Innocent Mdlelele and Franklyn Cale were the two men many felt were most likely to be left out. Previously midfielder Andile Jali and defender Bevan Fransman were omitted.

Jali was ruled out of consideration after a medical check-up revealed a possible heart condition. Fransman was a late addition to the 30-man squad as a replacement for the injured Morgan Gould.

Surprise at striker

Interestingly, Surprise Moriri, who scored against Guatemala after coming on as a substitute, has been included as a striker. He is better known as a free-scoring midfielder, but has proved himself to be a versatile player.

The other three strikers are Bernard Parker, Katlego Mphela, and Siyabonga Nomvethe. Parker provides a speedy option, Mphela is the most physical option and Nomvethe brings with him the experience of 77 internationals.

Eight midfielders have been chosen, including a good number of defensive players, including Reneilwe Letsholonyane, MacBeth Sibaya, Thanduyise Khuboni, and Kagiso Dikgacoi.

The attacking flair is likely to come from Teko Modise, Steven Pienaar, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Lance Davids, who was a surprise inclusion to some.

No-brainer

Pienaar’s selection was a no-brainer after he enjoyed an exceptional season with Everton in the English Premier League, while both Modise and Tshabalala have been in good form for the national team in the lead-up to the World Cup.

At the back, apart from the afore-mentioned Siboniso Gaxa and captain Aaron Mokoena, there is the tall crowd favourite Matthew Booth, who Bafana Bafana fans enjoy supporting with yells of Booooth, much like they used to support Mark Fish with shouts of Fiiiiish.

Bongani Khumalo of SuperSport United and the ever-improving Siyabonga Sangweni of Golden Arrows are also included, along with Lucas Thwala of Orlando Pirates, and the overseas-based pair of Anele Ngcongca and Tsepo Masilela.

Big question

The big question, to be answered by coach Parreira when he reveals his starting 11 for the World Cup opener against Mexico, is who will partner Mokoena in the centre of defence?

Booth has the experience, but it is thought that he is not Parreira’s favourite, while Sangweni and Khumalo are inexperienced.

In goal, Kaizer Chiefs’ goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is the clear number one choice, with Moneeb Josephs backing him up, and Shuaib Walters as the third choice.

BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Shuaib Walters (Maritzburg United)

Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa (Sundowns), Anele Ngcongca (KRC Genk, Belgium), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers), Matthew Booth (Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders: Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), Kagiso Dikgacoi (Fulham, England), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)

Strikers: Surprise Moriri (Sundowns), Bernard Parker (FC Twente, Holland), Katlego Mphela (Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows)

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