Bafana, US for Mandela Challenge

In 2009 Bafana Bafana faced Norway in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge. The home team won 2-1.
In 2009 Bafana Bafana faced Norway in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge. The home team won 2-1.

(Image: MediaClubsouthafrica.com)

 

 

Coach Pitso Mosimane of South Africa’s national football team Bafana Bafana has announced a 23-man squad that will meet the US in the annual friendly Nelson Mandela Challenge.

Mosimane announced the squad on 10 November 2010 at the headquarters of the South African Football Association (Safa) in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg’s inner city.

The briefing was attended by Mosimane; acting CEO and programmes director of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Moipone Buda-Ramatlo; Safa communications director Morio Senyane; Bafana manager Barney Kujane; Bafana assistant coach Jairo Leal; and Oupa Ngwenya, head of strategic projects and corporate communications at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

Giving young players a chance

The match will play out on 17 November at the Cape Town Stadium, built from the ground up for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Because the match is broadcast not only at home but also in the US through ESPN, kickoff is later than usual, at 9:30pm. This year’s challenge is the 16th edition.

Mosimane said: “This is a friendly match so I will be trying to have a look at other players and for that to happen I had to leave out some of the regulars in the team.”

The absence of experienced campaigners like captain Aaron Mokoena, Katlego Mphela and Macbeth Sibaya attests to this. Defender Bongani Khumalo has been left out due to injury.

“Friendly matches are a big challenge because as much as you try to make changes, it means you have to tamper with your winning combinations. But then again these are challenges that exist in this game, we have to strike a balance but also not lose sight of our vision of slowly bringing in young players,” said Mosimane.

Defenders recalled to the squad include: Siyanda Xulu of Mamelodi Sundowns, Keegan Ritchie of Moroka Swallows and Bevan Fransman of Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel. Midfielder Matthew Pattison, whose last Bafana outing was at the pre-World Cup training camp in Durban earlier this year, also returns to the national team.

Davide Somma, the England-based Leeds United striker, is the only newcomer. He gets his call-up because of a prolific strike rate at his UK club, which brought in some rave reviews. Somma was born in 1985 in Johannesburg but moved to the US as a 12-year-old before finding his way to England.

Mosimane said: “It’s important to give him a chance to see what he is made of, but at the same time I do not want to put him under pressure and give him the idea that he is the answer to our scoring problems.

“I just want to give him a chance to play for South Africa and increase our pool of strikers. He has been scoring in almost every match so we have to bring him in and I hope it works out for him,” said Mosimane.

The squad that will battle it out with US consists of: goalkeepers – Itumeleng Khune and Moeneeb Josephs; defenders – Siboniso Gaxa; Siyanda Xulu; Morgan Gould; Bevan Fransman; Siyabonga Sangweni; Tsepo Masilela; Keegan Ritchie and Anele Ngocongca; midfielders – Siphiwe Tshabalala; Steven Pienaar; Thanduyise Khuboni; Daylon Classen; Reneilwe Letsholonyane; Andile Jali; Teko Modise; Mathew Pattison and Kagisho Dikgacoi; strikers – Sthembiso Ngcobo; Kermit Erasmus; Davide Somma and Bernard Parker.

Bringing the best to South Africa

In a statement Safa CEO Lesley Sedibe, who wasn’t at the briefing, reiterated the association’s pledge to be a caring organisation.

Sedibe said: “The Nelson Mandela Challenge is a prestigious occasion in the international football calendar and is Safa’s commitment to always invite countries of high stature in the international football family.

“The highlight of the Challenge will be the presentation of a R1 000 000 (US$145 440) cheque by the two captains to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. It will be donated by Safa and it is in this spirit that we urge the people of Cape Town to fill the stadium to capacity,” said Sedibe.

Continuing Mandela’s legacy

The fund expressed its gratitude to Safa for the donation, saying it will go a long way towards putting smiles on the faces of many disadvantaged children.

The fund’s acting CEO Moipone Buda-Ramatlo said: “The Foundation is also happy to know that the beautiful game of soccer remains an active ally for the continued safety, protection and care of children.

“The wellbeing of children is a cause most dear to our founder Nelson Mandela, as there can be no better future for any society than its children,” said Buda-Ramatlo.

Oupa Ngwenya of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund said: “As a sports-based fundraising vehicle of the fund, the Nelson Mandela Challenge has been a combination of fun and a demonstration of concern for children’s wellbeing from the football community.”

The fund was established by former president Nelson Mandela in 1995, driven by his love for children and his desire to end their suffering.