Thulani Serero did enough over the three-day mini training camp to convince Gordon Igesund to take a gamble on him and be included in Bafana’s 23-man squad for the 2013 AfconThere is no place for Teko Modise, Andile Jali or defender Bevan Fransman, who just one week ago was the first choice in central defence for the friendly against Malawi in Durban.
The squad for the upcoming tournament was named at a Johannesburg press conference on Sunday, providing a surprise or two and also some desperate disappointment.
Serero has not played a single senior game since a groin injury in September and although he has returned to training at Ajax Amsterdam in recent weeks, he is far short of match fitness.
But Igesund decided to include him in the 23-man selection for the finals, which starts on January 19 for Bafana in the opening game against the Cape Verde Islands at Johannesburg’s Soccer City.
“Sixty minutes of Serero might yet make a huge difference. He is a playmaker with special ability,” insisted Igesund.
Serero’s inclusion means no place for Teko Modise, who has been a Bafana regular over the last five years but whose international career now looks at an end.
Andile Jali also lost out in something of a surprise as Igesund preferred to pick May Mahlangu in a defensive midfield role.
Thuso Phala was the surprise inclusion in the side, but is evidence of Igesund’s determination to play a wide expansive game at the Nations Cup. Phala has won just two caps and was baffled himself when he got his first call-up in November.
Igesund said he believed he had a “dream team” with the potential to challenge for the title. He said making the final decision on the 23 players was the toughest call of his six months in charge of the national side.
He said players were picked for their ability to mix and match in various positions.
The only uncapped player in the squad is third choice goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa.
South Africa squad for the 2013 Afcon:
|Itumeleng Khune||Kaizer Chiefs
|Senzo Meyiwa||Orlando Pirates|
|Anele Ngcongca||Racing Genk, Belgium
|Thabo Nthethe||Bloemfontein Celtic|
|Siyabonga Sangweni||Orlando Pirates
|Siyanda Xulu||FC Rostov, Russia|
|Siboniso Gaxa||Kaizer Chiefs
|Thabo Matlaba||Orlando Pirates|
|Dean Furman||Oldham Athletic, England
|Reneilwe Letsholonyane||Kaizer Chiefs
|Siphiwe Tshabalala||Kaizer Chiefs
|Thanduyise Khuboni||Golden Arrows|
|Kagisho Dikgacoi||Crystal Palace, England
|Lerato Chabangu||Moroka Swallows|
|Thulani Serero||Ajax Amsterdam, Holland
|Lehlohonolo Majoro||Kaizer Chiefs|
|Katlego Mphela||Mamelodi Sundowns|