Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has named the 23-man squad that will represent South Africa at the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015 tournament which starts next month (17 January to 8 February 2015).
Mashaba has kept faith with most of the players that did duty during the AFCON 2015 qualifiers.
The coach had called up 34 players to the mini-training camp which started on Friday, 26 December in Johannesburg – with only Dean Furman (England) and Thulani Serero (Netherlands) unable to join the camp.
Mashaba has named three goalkeepers, seven defenders, nine midfielders and four strikers.
Of the seven overseas-based contingent called up in the provisional squad, only Serero and Ayanda Patosi miss out on the plane to Equatorial Guinea.
Andile Jali, who did not train with the team since his arrival due to a knock on the knee, has been declared fit to travel.
“This was a very hectic exercise and if you look at all the players that were here, it was not easy to select the final 23. Unfortunately, we are bound by rules and regulations of the competition and had to trim the squad. We are glad we managed to select the players we believe will represent the country well in Equatorial Guinea,” said Mashaba.
“We still want to say to those who have been selected, this is a perfect opportunity for you, grab it with both hands because selection is not permanent. You still have to go out, work hard and make your country proud. To those who missed out, it is not the end of the world, there are more competitions coming, which means more opportunities again.”
Bafana Bafana have taken a short break from camp and will return in the New Year on Friday, 2 January 2015.
Two days later (Sunday, 4 January) they will have a warm-up match against Equatorial Guinea-bound Zambia at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
Kickoff is at 15h00.
“This game will give us an indication of where we stand in terms of readiness for the tournament. I would just like to see fans come in numbers to say farewell and to congratulate the final 23,” added Mashaba.
The Bafana Bafana mentor also took the opportunity to wish South Africans well over the festive break.
“We are now approaching the dawning of the New Year, we would like to say to everyone look after yourselves. I know everyone is still excited as we are on holiday but don’t drink and drive, it is not safe at all. To those at the beach don’t drink and jump into the water, you are looking for trouble, be responsible in your celebrations,” concluded the coach.
“To all those who suported the team during the qualifying campaign, who sent us prayers and messages of support, we would like to say thank you. Now we are now moving to a higher level where we will need that support again. Come back and give the team the strength it needs to do well on this upcoming assignment.”
Bafana Bafana will travel to Gabon on Tuesday, 6 January for a pre-tournament camp where they are scheduled to play a number of warm-up matches.
They will face Cameroon in Libreville on Saturday, 10 January with a clash with hosts Gabon pencilled in for either 13 or 14 January.
The South African will then move to Equatorial Guinea on either the 14th or 15th of January.
Bafana Bafana’s opening match in the tournament is against Algeria on Monday, 19 January (21h00 SA time), followed by the clash with Senegal on Friday, 23 January (21h00 SA time) with the last group stages match against Ghana on Tuesday, 27 January (20h00 SA time).
South Africa will play all their group stage matches in Mongomo.