The last time Mzansi had a “Golden Generation” of young players at its disposal, the legendary Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba gathered some of the premier footballers in that bunch, took them along to Sydney for the 2000 Olympic Games and beat Brazil playing that entertaining brand of true Mzansi Diski that seems to need some reviving. Many of those lads from the 80’s born Golden Generation have hung up their boots and you may catch a few dabbling as pundits on your television screens while others watch them from their nearest bar stools, some of this lads became national team and club level stars while others went down into history as wasted potential that had the ability to amaze; while you would have to be seated alongside a true Mzansi Diski purist to get the gist of how talented that bunch of players truly was, the fact that we still lament the loss of their football playing talents to our fraternity is telling enough. While the lads should have beaten Japan and Slovakia handsomely, they managed to give a good account of themselves and introduce Mzansi Diski to the global football fraternity by comprehensively beating the pre-tournament favourites with their star studded line-up and their abundance of riches in reserves.
15 years removed from that 2000 Sydney Olympics, we stand at the cusp of elevating that benchmark with the blessed generation of u/23 footballers we have at our disposal now; Owen or Rubber Doll as he is affectionately known, has been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that we qualify to book our flights to Rio, after having to cancel our vacation’s last year thanks to he who shall not be mentioned, and show the rest of the football realm that Mzansi is ready to compete with the best of them in the next couple of international football cycles. The announcement of Owen’s first ever Ama-Glug Glug side was not surrounded with the fanfare one would have expected for a football nation that has caught glimpses of the talent on the rise at u/17 and u/20 levels, yet we will take that on the chin and seek to ensure that wee keep you in the loop as we pray for ODG and his charges on this Road To Rio and its many stopovers.
The lads are due to play a friendly encounter against Palestine away on Saturday (March 14th), the players he selected have a lot to do with availability of many of the more established u/23 in our national pool and this opportunity he has given to the more unknown quantities will be a chance for them to stake a claim for the competitive fixtures while also affording us the chance to add some depth to our national pool as a whole. One shouldn’t read too much into the initial selection but its worth noting just how wide the net was cast for this squad, players from Varsity Football will now know that even they have a chance to make the squad if they can play at the required level; this is a far cry from the times where junior national team squads were made up of a concoction of players from certain academies even when there were evidently better suited youngsters for the task.
The First Selection:
Sefoto Clement Ramakgasha – Team: Jomo Cosmos DoB: February 23rd, 1996 Age: 19
Thakasani Minenhle Mbanjwa – Team: BidVest Wits DoB: May 7th, 1996 Age: 18
Tshepo Mamabolo – Team: Platinum Stars Age: 20
Mbongeni Gumede – Team: Orlando Pirates DoB: September 11th, 1993 Age: 21 Position/s: Wingback, Fullback
Junior Siyabonga Sibande – Team: University of Pretoria DoB: June 26th, 1993 Age: 21 Position/s: Wingback, Fullback
Simphiwe Mtsweni – Team: Kaizer Chiefs DoB: July 10th, 1994 Age: 20 Position/s: Wingback, Fullback
Sifiso Victor Nkosi – Team: NWU Vaal Age: 21
Lorenzo Gordinho – Team: Kaizer Chiefs DoB: April 26th, 1994 Age: 20 Position/s: Central Defender, Wingback, Fullback
Jason Clayton Skippers – Team: Mamelodi Sundowns Position/s: Central Defender, Anchorman
Zitha Macheke – Team: Kaizer Chiefs DoB: January 4th, 1994 Age: 21 Position: Central Defender
Tshepiso Promise Sathekge – Team: SuperSport United DoB: January 17th, 1994 Age: 21 Position/s: Central Defender, Defensive Midfielder
Zwivhuya Chris Matombo – Team: Kaizer Chiefs DoB: September 26th, 1993 Age: 21 Position: Defensive Midfielder
Avela Cezu – Team: Mamelodi Sundowns Position: Deep-Lying Playmaker
Menzi Alson Masuku – Team: Orlando Pirates DoB: April 15th, 1993 Age: 21 Position: Attacking Midfielder
Paseka Sekese – Team: BidVest Wits Age: 20 Position: Attacking Midfielder
Nkululeko Bafana Dlamini – Team: Remember Academy Position: Defensive Midfielder
Itumeleng Lephika Moshobane – Team: Kaizer Chiefs Position/s: Winger, AP
Andisiwe Isaac Mtsila – Team: Kaizer Chiefs DoB: January 12th, 1995 Age: 20 Position/s: Deep-Lying Playmaker, Advanced Playmaker, Winger
Khayelihle Kingsley Shozi – Team: Mamelodi Sundowns Position/s: Advanced Playmaked, Advanced Forward, Deep-Lying Forward
Abednego Keoikantse Mosiatlhago – Team: BidVest Wits
Snethemba Ngidi – Team: SuperSport United DoB: May 13th, 1995 Age: 19 Position: AM
Sibusiso Mahlangu – Team: Orlando Pirates Position/s: Advanced Forward, Poacher
Tshegofatso John Mabasa –Team: Bloemfontein Celtic Position: Complete Forward
The Grand Stand View
While we at GSV may have our apprehensions about the make-up of the squad, we honestly feel as is ODG has taken a calculated risk considering the fact that an astonishing 40 players were deemed unavailable to represent their nation because the fixtures fall outside the FIFA international dates; it would have been great for our nation however if our football federation, the Nation Soccer League and the domestic sides had an open line of dialogue that would have made known the availability of the players before Rubber Doll even sent out his call-up letter to allow for better planning and negate thee need for embarrassing rejections. Now that the best available squad has been picked, we pray that ODG and his charges do well against Palestine before making the nation proud by qualifying for the All-Africa Games, and then we will be able to call up or more established lads and give it a proper shot at qualifying for Rio. Sudan are a side that even a depleted AmaGlug-Glug side should be despatching of with ease, a knowledgeable and experienced gaffer like ODG will know that the nation is expectant and the result is far more important than the performance right now; we will worry about the selection headache once we have qualified for the All-Africa Games, but we will continue to keep an eye on the return trip prices for a trip to Rio while we pray night and day for our Golden Generation.