Mokoena maintained, McCarthy misses out
Pitso Mosimane, the man who has been tasked with orchestrating the revival of South Africa, has insisted on continuity as he announced his first squad to face Ghana in next week's friendly in Johannesburg.
As he faced the media in Johannesburg for the first time to announce his squad, Mosimane spoke of the need to create stability which he believes will create a solid foundation.
Between 1996 and 2000, South Africa were the top team in African football according to the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, only slipping out of the top three in 2004 - and the new coach is targeting a return to those halcyon days.
Mosimane named a few surprises in his 22-man squad including Israel-based defender Bevan Fransman, winger Daine Klate and striker Sthembiso Ngcobo who recently signed for South Africa’s self-styled glamour side, Kaizer Chiefs.
The 46-year-old is no stranger to the Bafana Bafana set-up, having been given caretaker roles at the helm before Carlos Alberto Parreira’s first stint as a coach and was thereafter a long-term assistant for both Joel Santana's reign and Parreira's comeback.
“I have been in this job for just 22 days and I can’t be expected to make a many changes, that will be stupid of me," he said. "But I have a plan, a vision for this team. However, I must be careful not to make too many changes at once. I expect and demand patriotism from all the players who have been selected, they must show that they want to play for South Africa."
Sentimentality, he intimated, has no place in his squad, although he restored Aaron Mokoena, as his captain. The former Blackburn Rovers defender was singled out for criticism in the South African media following Bafana Bafana's early exit from the FIFA World Cup, but Mosimane felt that a change of skipper would have a destabilising effect on his side and send unnecessary panic throughout the squad.
There is still no place for Benni McCarthy, who was omitted from South Africa's 23-man squad by Parreira due to concerns regarding his fitness. However, Mosimane has left the door open for McCarthy – the country’s all time top goalscorer, to return.
"If a player shows great form at club level, he will play for Bafana and that principle applies to Benni as well," he said. "But I don’t want to spend time here talking about players who are not here. I will base my selection on merit."
One of Mosimane's main priorities is to get a fitting heir to McCarthy’s crown and he wants to accelerate that process. There have been some contenders to the prize, but none of them have exercise the shrewdness and ruthlessness associated with McCarthy at his peak.
Katlego Mphela, South Africa’s first-choice forward at the FIFA World Cup impressed in flashes, there remains question marks over Bernard Parker's ability to perform at international level and the pacy Siyabonga Nomvete will be 36 by the time Brazil 2014 comess around. is ageing.
South Africa squad: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Siboniso Gaxa (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Bevan Fransman (Hapoel, Israel), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), Innocent Mdledle (Orlando Pirates), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth, England), Anele Ngconca (Tracing Genk, Belgium), Daine Klate, Teko Modise (both Orlando Pirates), Siphiwe Tshabalala, Reneilwe Letsholonyane (both Kaiser Chiefs), Macbeth Sibaya (Ruban Kazan, Russia), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham, England), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Thanduyise Khuboni (Golden Arrows), Surprise Moriri (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sthembiso Ngcobo (Kaiser Chiefs), Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns) and Bernard Parker (FC Twente, Netherlands).