In line with its development focus, the Cosafa Cup will give South Africa’s chosen Under-23 players a chance to strut their stuff in the tournament in Durban and perhaps prove a point.
The regional football competition gets going on Tuesday, but the young Bafana Bafana side have received a bye and will only start playing on July 13 against Mozambique in the quarter-finals.
Senegal are a guest team from West Africa for the second year in a row, and have also received a bye into the quarter-finals, as have Madagascar and Namibia.
Tuesday’s round-robin action on the coast features Seychelles versus Botswana at 2 pm and Angola versus Comoros at 5 pm. Wednesday sees Mauritius take on Swaziland in the early game and then Lesotho encounter Malawi.
Helman Mkhalele, the stand-in Bafana Bafana coach, has finalised his 23-man squad for the tournament and they plan to arrive in Durban on July 10, three days before their date with Mozambique.
They are led by new AmaZulu signing Ethan Brooks and he has Rowan Human from Maritzburg United as a fellow attacking midfielder in the unit. Stellenbosch FC and SuperSport United players feature well in the squad and there is a rare Ireland-based member in Katlego Mashigo from the Portadown club.
Mkhalele believes there is enough talent at his disposal to do well in the tournament, which South Africa won last year. His players might also want to take a bite into Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos’ assessment that there is a lack of class on the domestic scene, where many of them play and hope to become top professionals one day.
“This was not an easy process to go through given the fact that everybody in the team showed the hunger and desire to be in the final squad,” Mkhalele said after naming his team.
“That’s what made it difficult, but we are happy with the final 23 we have chosen. We have also made them aware of the expectations set for them going into this tournament and our first game against Mozambique.
“When you go to any tournament as a coach, you need to make sure that you have selected players who have the right mindset, attitude and the willingness to win.
The first game against Mozambique is going to be crucial because this is a side we beat in last year’s edition en route to the final. They will go into this tie with the intentions of avenging that defeat and we cannot let them. We are the defending champions and our intention is to go all the way in fighting to defend our title.
Hollywoodbets is the sponsor of the competition. Tickets will be free for fans throughout the tournament, and these can be collected from the match venues on the day before the matches are played. Matches are to be broadcast on SuperSport and streamed via Cosafa.tv.
Meanwhile, the South African women’s team, Banyana Banyana, registered a 2-1 win against Nigeria in their opening 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) assignment in Morocco on Monday night.
Bafana Bafana’s Cosafa Cup Squad: Mcaba Athenkosi (Stellenbosch), Adams Jayden (Stellenbosch), Antonio van Wyk (Stellenbosch), Lebohang Nthene (Stellenbosch), Lincoln Vyver (Cape Town Spurs), Chumani Butsaka (Cape Town Spurs), Azola Matrose (Chippa Utd), Zuko Mdunyelwa (Chippa Utd), Thapelo Maseko (SuperSport Utd), Kegan Johannes (SuperSport Utd), Selaelo Rasebotja (SuperSport Utd), Ethan Brooks (AmaZulu), Olwethu Mzimela (AmaZulu) Khulekani Shezi (Royal AM), Keletso Sifama (Kaizer Chiefs), Rowan Human (Maritzburg Utd), Siyanda Msani (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sydney Malivha (Baroka), Dan Ndhlovu (Baroka), Macbeth Mahlangu (TS Galaxy), Sbonelo Cele (Golden Arrows), Boitumelo Radiopane (Orlando Pirates), Katlego Mashigo (Portadown, Ireland).