32 players enter the Rand Stadium today with the knowledge that the next three days could make or break their Africa Cup of Nations dream
With 23 days to go and 23 players to be selected for the final Africa Cup of Nations squad, Gordon Igesund has organised a three-day camp starting on Thursday at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg.
The camp will allow for three mini-matches to be played as well as some intense physical training, which should determine who is up for the challenge of the Africa Cup of Nations. The usual names will be there, but the camp gives some of the newcomers a chance to shine in front of the watchful Igesund.
The 32 who enter the fray on Thursday largely comprises local talent but with an element of internationally based players, including newcomer Ayanda Patosi and Thulani Serrero.
Patosi’s name has been on eveyone’s lips this season due to his prolific scoring run at FC Lokeren in Belgium, as well as his picture perfect volley which has become a Youtube sensation. The camp will allow him to display his talents and convince Igesund he is hungry to perform on the international stage.
Serero is returning form a long injury lay-off and has not been given an opportunity to prove his match fitness for Ajax Amsterdam, as he has been left on the side-lines since being declared fit. Igesund will know all about what Serero can offer the side, but his fitness will be a major concern.
The final piece of the jigsaw for Igesund will be the form and fitness of star striker Katlego Mphela. Mphela has enjoyed a fantastic return to the fold for Mamelodi Sundowns, scoring vital goals and looking sharp, but performing up to standard on Africa’s biggest stage requires a different level of match fitness, which Mphela will have to prove he can attain.
Igesund will have been pleased with the 3-1 victory over Malawi, where Bafana Bafana looked to dominate rather than defend and this philosophy will be his focus throughout the next three days. He will look for players who want to play free-flowing football and who display that finishing touch which has been neglecting South African sides for an age.
With the final squad due to be named long before the required deadline of January the 9th, Igesund is looking to lock down a group of players and turn them into a winning unit in merely 18 days, with the final 23 due to meet on January the 2nd for the final stage of preparations before the tournament is kicked off against Cape Verde.