Bafana Bafana’s preliminary squad for the World Cup 2010.
Rightly or wrongly, few people outside of South Africa hold much hope for Bafana Bafana in the World Cup. But with a nucleus of players used to the rigour of England’s Premier League – the toughest league in the world – the hosts at least have an experienced base to work with.
The preliminary 29-man squad named by head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira includes four players with from the top flight of English football: captain Aaron Mokoena of Portsmouth, Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar, West Ham striker Benni McCarthy, and Fulham midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi.
The squad will be pared to a final 23 on or before June 1.
Although McCarthy has been struggling with injury, and Dikgacoi not a regular starter for Fulham, all are quality players who won’t be overwhelmed our outgunned at the World Cup.
Other notable European-based players include MacBeth Sibaya of Russian club Rubin Kazan and Bernard Parker, of Dutch champions FC Twente.
Another of the team’s European stalwarts is goalkeeper Rowan Fernandez. He’s been around a long time, but is playing in the second division of German football – a far cry from the sort of testing ground that most top-flight keepers in the World Cup will be coming from.
The biggest headache for the squad, however, comes from the locally based players. The standard of South Africa’s Premier Soccer League simply cannot compare to that in Europe, meaning a massive step up for the likes of PSL-based players Itumeleng Khune, Teko Modise, Siboniso Gaxa and Katlego Mphela, all of whom are likely to start for the hosts.
Siphiwe Tshabalala, Surprise Moriri, Matthew Booth and Thanduyise Khuboni are other locally based players hopeful of forcing their way into the the starting line-up.
Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), age: 22, caps: 21, debut:
Shu-Aib Walters (Maritzburg United), age: 28, uncapped
Rowen Fernandez (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany), age: 32, caps: 23, debut:
Moeneeb Joseph (Orlando Pirates), age: 30, caps 14, debut:
Matthew Booth (Mamelodi Sundowns), age: 33, caps: 26
Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), age 26, caps: 34
Innocent Mdledle (Mamelodi Sundowns), age: 24, caps: 10
Bongani Khumalo (Supersport United), age 23, caps: 10
Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), age 25, caps: 29
Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth, England), age 29, caps: 99
Bryce Moon (PAOK, Greece), age: 24, caps: 16
Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk, Belgium), age: 22, caps: 3
Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), age: 28, caps 7
Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates), age: 28, caps: 20
Bevan Fransman (Maccabi Netanya, Israel), age: 26, caps: 14
Surprise Moriri (Mamelodi Sundowns), age: 30, caps: 28
Franklin Cale (Mamelodi Sundowns), age 27, caps: 4
Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), age: 25, caps 22
Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham, England), age: 25, caps: 32
Andile Jali (Orlando Pirates), age: 20, caps 3
Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), age: 27, caps: 47
Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), age: 28, caps: 9
Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs), age: 25, caps: 43
Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), age: 24, caps: 5
Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), age: 28, caps: 46
Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), age: 32, caps: 56
Benni McCarthy (West Ham United, England), age: 32, caps: 78
Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), age: 25, caps: 28
Siyabonga Nomvete (Moroka Swallows), age: 32, caps: 73
Bernard Parker (FC Twente, Holland), age: 24, caps: 25