Bafana Bafana start the road to 2014 Brazil

12:20 (GMT+2) Thu, 17 May 2012

Bafana Bafana head coach Pitso Mosimane has announced a 27-member squad for the upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia and Botswana, as well as a friendly international match against Gabon.

Bafana Bafana will face Ethiopia on Sunday 3 June at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng near Rustenburg.

Kickoff is at 15h00.

“Ethiopia is a very and stubborn team that doesn’t give up and give in to pressure. They have a very quick team up front and a very compact in defence, but we think we have the ammunition and the players to unlock this ultra-defensive approach. We have played against such defences against the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone recently and we managed to unlock them at particular times. We hope the experience of those two matches will help to us unlock the Ethiopian defence. It is important to win the game at all costs – at this point in time the key is to win the game and not focus on playing very well. The country deserves a win,” said Mosimane.

The following week South Africa will travel to Gaborone for a clash against Botswana which will take place on Saturday, 9 June at a venue and kickoff time still to be determined.

Mosimane has recalled Moroka Swallows striker Siyabonga Nomvethe as well as Eleazar Rodgers of Santos. Orlando Pirates striker Tokelo Rantie is the only new member in the team.

Four goalkeepers will battle it out for the number one jersey – Itumeleng Khune, Moeneeb Josephs, Wayne Sandilands and Belgium-based Darren Keet.

Mosimane has kept the experience in defence with the likes of Siyabonga Sangweni, Morgan Gould and Bongani Khumalo called up, while captain Steven Pienaar will lead the midfield which includes Kaizer Chiefs’ Reneilwe Letsholonyane who recently returned from a long lay-off due to injury.

The head coach has also put three players on standby, but they will be in camp as well – Luvhengo Mungomeni (Moroka Swallows); Thamsanqa Sangweni (Amazulu) and Lehlogonolo Masalesa (Bidvest Wits).

“It is important to keep the balance of youth and experience in the team because we are also preparing the team beyond 2014. We have also acknowledged and rewarded most of the players who have done well in the PSL this season,” added the head coach.

Bafana Bafana will assemble on Monday, 21 May at the Southern Sun Hotel at the OR Tambo International Airport at midday, before departing for the Royal Marang Sports Complex after lunch where they will hold camp.

The Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United will be not be available in the first week of camp as they will be with their clubs preparing for the final of the Nedbank Cup final scheduled for the Orlando Stadium on Saturday, 26 May.

They will join their compatriots after the final.

Bafana Bafana will head for Botswana by road on Thursday, 7 June for the game against neighbours before returning on Sunday, 10 June to start preparing for the friendly encounter against Gabon.