The final 23-man football squad that will represent South Africa at the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup was announced by Bafana Bafana coach Joel Santana yesterday.
In selecting the team, Santana said he observed the players over a 21-day camp, starting on 13 May 2009. He focused mainly on their physical condition, technical and tactical awareness as well as on their medical and emotional condition.
“I decided to choose the 23 players who I believed had all those qualities; it was not an easy decision but because Fifa wants us to register 23 players, the decision had to be taken,” the Brazilian coach said in a statement released by the South African Football Association.
Santana said he initially chose 30 players because the South African season ended early in May – too close to the tournament – and he had to take into consideration that some players might pick up injuries, while others may be out of shape.
In determining his final choice, Santana said he selected two players per position, and three for goalkeeping.
“I hope that those in the team will now focus hundred percent. What is left for me is to try to find the best 11 to face Iraq, and we will use the match against Poland on Saturday to find the combinations as we continue to prepare the team,” Santana said.
The squad is dominated by players from South African clubs. Those who didn’t make it include Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs, Pirates striker Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Siyabonga Nkosi, Belgian-based defensive midfielder Masilo Modubi and Golden Arrows leftback Mzuvukile Tom.
Santana said the door is not closed for the excluded players, as they are still in his plans for the Confederations Cup.
“I have told them that if any replacement is needed they could be back in the team but in the meantime they must continue training by themselves and also prepare for the future.”
The final Bafana Bafana squad is:
Goalkeepers: Brian Baloyi (Mamelodi Sundowns), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Rowen Fernandez (Armenia Bielefeld, Germany)
Defenders: Matthew Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth, England), Bryce Moon (Panithinikos, Greece), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Innocent Mdledle (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Lance Davids (SuperSport United), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Golden Arrows), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), Benson Mhlongo (Orlando Pirates), Elrio van Heerden (Blackburn Rovers, England).
Strikers: Bernard Parker (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thembinkosi Fanteni (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Katlego Mashego (Orlando Pirates)
On 14 June South Africa is to play Iraq in the opening match of the tournament, at Ellis Park Stadium. They will also face New Zealand and Spain in their group.
The tournament kicks off on 14 June when South Africa take on Iraq at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and New Zealand face Spain at the Royal Bafokeng stadium near Rustenburg.
The 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup will be the eighth Confederations Cup, held in South Africa from 14 June to 28 June 2009 as a prelude to the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The eight qualified teams are defending champions Brazil and World Cup winners Italy, as well as South Africa, the US, Iraq, Egypt, Spain and New Zealand.
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