Masalesa to captain South Africa against Tanzania in Cosafa Cup

SAFA Media
SA will begin the defence of their COSAFA Castle Cup with a clash against Tanzania on Sunday, 2 July 2017

The match takes place at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Phokeng, near Rustenburg. Kickoff is at 15h00.

Tanzania, who came into the tournament as guests at this year’s tournament, earned the right to face Bafana Bafana after they topped Group A.

In their last group stages match, Tanzania were held to a 1-1 draw by Mauritius, which saw them finish on five points after three fixtures.

The East Africans were tied on points with Angola, who drew with Malawi in the other group match played simultaneously, but Tanzania advanced to the last eight due to a better goal difference.

Victory for South Africa against Tanzania will see them face the winners of the Botswana vs Zambia clash on Wednesday, 5 July.

Bafana Bafana have won this competition on four occasions – 2002, 2007, 2008, 2016 – joining Zambia and Zimbabwe as the only three nations to achieved this feat.

Group B will be concluded on Friday, 30 June when Madagascar face Mozambique at Moruleng Stadium and Zimbabwe go toe to toe with the Seychelles at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.

Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana winger Ngoma has been forced to withdraw from the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup squad due to a recurring knee injury.

The technical team is still considering Ngoma’s replacement. Ngoma was taken for an MRI scan on Thursday morning (29 June) at the nearby hospital, and it confirmed that he would not be able to play in the tournament.

“It’s a shock to all of us, but unfortunately Ngoma will play no further part in this camp as he sustained an injury at training on Wednesday, 28 June – that is not good news. But it is an old injury. It is sad to lose a player of his calibre but these things happen in football. I will meet with my technical team and decide which player to bring in. I can only wish him a speedy recovery because he is such a fantastic player,” said Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter.

Ngoma earned one Bafana Bafana in the international friendly match against Zambia earlier this year and was looking forward to making more appearances in the tournament.

Baxter confirmed that Lehlogonolo Masalesa was the obvious choice for captain of the Bafana Bafana in the COSAFA CUP.

“He has presence, character and authority. He also has the experience of playing abroad and here at home, which means players look up to him. They also see his quality on the field and he could serve as an inspiration,” added Baxter.

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The Greece-based midfielder says the announcement caught him by surprise.

“I won’t lie, I am shocked because we have a few leaders in the team and I did not expect this. But it’s a big honour and I will take in my stride. We have a good bunch of players and it should be easy to lead them because there is a lot of respect among everyone, they don’t look at where I play but what I can do on the field. I like how they get along as a group and it makes it easier for the older ones,” said Masalesa.

Masalesa sat out Thursday’s training session due a niggling injury but it was just as a precaution. He is expected back on the field on Friday (30 June).