The Olympians: South Africa’s u/23 (Amaglug-Glug) 2016 Rio Olympics Squad

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The talk of Vision 2022 has returned to the top of most Mzansi diski discussion once again, as national under 23 coach, Owen Da Gama, announced his 18 man plus stand-by list of players to represent South Africa in the 26th male edition of the football spectacle part of the Olympic Games, to be held in Rio. It seems to have been eons since we’ve had a national team announcement, at any level, that hasn’t failed to produce great unrest amongst most football following South Africans regarding the personnel selected. The trend seems to have progressed, as two Kaizer Chiefs players have been named as the 2 over-age players chosen in the rather inexperienced squad; one that could have used the luxury of another more seasoned campaigner further up field to ease the pressure of carrying the offensive unit, a unit comprising of a few talented youngsters that haven’t played much football at the elite level. I was fortunate enough to come across a list of the 19 candidates nominated on the overage shortlist by Owen Da Gama, a list exclusively sourced by The Times and circulated on Social Media, seeing players like Solomon Mathe, Surprise Moriri, Tlou Segolela, Asavela Mbekile and Ndumiso Mabena on the list, players who wouldn’t not have been much use within the current circumstances, was a slap in the face, as it seems as though our national teams are still being treated like a friends & clients of friends club. Players like Thabo Matlaba, Hlompho Kekana, Thabo Rakhale, Prince Nxumalo & Moeketsi Sekola, who were all also on the list, would have added a different quality to the squad, and given them a different outlook, particularly regarding how they setup their offensive game. Andile Jali and Lebogang Phiri are said to have had their call-ups rejected by their respective club sides, Jali was to serve as the 3rd overage player, while Phiri would have been a lock to start in one of the two double-pivot slots, in what cloud have been his international level breakthrough for South Africa.

Potential is a great commodity in modern sports, where we often value high potential ceiling prospects over good readymade talents, simply because, a young talent with the perceived scope for growth is seen as an asset that has the potential to yield greater rewards. The process behind negating the option of calling up a 3rd overage player for the tournament has been explained by a desire to afford another u/23 player with the opportunity to make the nation proud, and build upon that great platform to catapult their career to the next level. One cannot disagree with that notion, but with the squad already consisting of a few players that could be said to have been “afforded a platform to make the nation proud”, which is more like a gift to some who have largely been unseen & are unproven on the professional level, one cannot help but feel as if, yet again, we let our politics get in the way of us assembling the best possible side, which is a pity as this is such a pivotal tournament in the success of said Vision 2022.

The leaders tasked with guiding the beautiful game in our beloved South Africa have made little attempt to fully clarify what it is their Vision 2022 will achieve in the short, mid and long terms; yet whenever the topic is conveniently brought up for discussion, the nation just happens to be on the cusp of a youth international tournament that never appears to be fully logistically prepared for by those in charge. The appointment of Neil Tovey as Technical Director of SAFA was intended to have put an end to an era where clubs are at odds with the national team over player availability, for whatever reason, we often see players from the same local clubs get preferential treatment when it comes to national call-ups, and that is something that was intended to stop as we moved towards this Vision 2022, that promotes youth development and inclusion of players from across the board. The one truly commendable facet of the side is the diversity of where they selected players were developed or nurtured into professionals; of the 18 man squad, 8 were groomed in Gauteng, with a much improved 5 in Cape Town, 2 from the North-West and one each from, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

South Africa is a nation blessed with great sporting talent in abundance, for whatever reason, we have failed to continually translate our great gifts into elite level players, that elevate the standard of our national teams, and give our loving fan base something to truly be proud of. Aside from the 1996 African Cup of Nations triumph, South African football has barely made a mark on the field in the sport, and that is very disappointing when you consider the wealth of talent and resources we are fortunate enough to have at our disposal. The 18 men selected will do very well to fully represent the splendour and richness of South African football, in a country that embraces good attacking football much like we do, one can only pray that our current group of u/23’s can go further than the Class of 2000, and win enough points to secure passage out of a group that contains the host nation, in the 26th edition of football at the Olympic games. South Africa will be hoping to finish in the top 2 of Group A, and book a quarter-final battle with Colombia, Japan, Nigeria or Sweden, who will all be vying for the two available qualifying slots in group B.

South Africa Under-23 Olympic Squad (Rio 2016)

Goalkeepers

Name Club DoB Height Preferred Foot
Itumeleng Isaac Khune Kaizer Chiefs FC, RSA June 20th, 1987 (29) 1, 81m Right
Jody Jason February Ajax Cape Town FC, RSA May 12th, 1996 (20) 1, 82m Right

 

Defenders

Name Club Position/s DoB Height Preferred Foot
Kwandakwensizwa Ishmael Mngonyama Mamelodi Sundowns FC, RSA RB/CB/LB September 25th, 1993 (22) 1, 80m Right
Abbubaker Mobara Orlando Pirates FC, RSA RB/CB/DM February 18th, 1994 (22) 1, 79m Right
Repo Tercious Malepe Orlando Pirates FC, RSA CB February 18th, 1997 (19)   Right
Mulomowandau Erick Mathoho Kaizer Chiefs FC, RSA CB March 1st, 1990 (26) 1, 90m Right
Rivaldo Roberto Genino Coetzee Ajax Cape Town FC, RSA CB October 16th, 1996 (19) 1, 79m Right
Tebogo Moerane BidVest Wits FC, RSA LB April 7th, 1995 (21) 1, 65m Left

 

Midfielders

Name Club Position/s DoB Height Preferred Foot
Mothobi Mvala Highlands Park FC, RSA DM June 14th, 1994 (22) 1, 82m Right
Phumlani Nkosinathi Ntshangase BidVest Wits FC, RSA CB/DM/DLP December 24th, 1994 (21) 1, 65m Right
Gift Mohlatlego Motupa Orlando Pirates FC, RSA AM/AF/CF September 23rd, 1994 (21) 1, 80m Right
Deolin Quade Mekoa Maritzburg United FC, RSA DLP/AM/AP (L/R/C) August 10th, 1993 (22) 1, 60m Right
Menzi Alson Masuku Orlando Pirates FC, RSA AM/AP(L/R/C) April 15th, 1993 (23) 1, 72m Right
Keagan Larenzo Dolly Mamelodi Sundowns FC, RSA AM/AP(L/R/C) January 22nd, 1993 (23) 1, 70m Either
Aubrey Maphosa Modiba Cape Town City FC, RSA LB/AM/AP(L/R) July 22nd 1995 (20) 1, 60m Right

 

Forwards

Name Club DoB Height Preferred Foot
Tashreeq Morris Ajax Cape Town FC, RSA May 13th, 1994 (22) 1, 84m Right
Lebohang Mothiba Lille OSC, FRA January 28th, 1996 (20)   Right
Tyroane Joe Sandows Grêmio FBPA, BRA February 12th, 1995 (21) 1, 70m Right

 

Standby List

Name Club Position/s DoB Height Preferred Foot
Nkosingiphile Gumede Golden Arrows FC, RSA GK December 1st, 1993 (22) 1, 76m Right
Thapelo James Morena Bloemfontein Celtic FC, RSA RB/AP/AM/AF (R/L/C) August 6th, 1993 (22) 1, 70m Right
Andile Fikozolo SuperSport United FC, RSA AP/AM/AF (L/R/C) February 18th, 1997 (19) 1, 69m Right
Thabiso Simon Kutumela Orlando Pirates FC, RSA AP/AF/CF (L/R/C) July 3rd, 1993 (23)   Right

South Africa Under-23 Olympic Games Fixtures

Group Fixture 1

Brazil vs South Africa

Date: Thursday August 4th, 2016; 16H00 | 21H00 CAT

Venue: Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasília; Brazil

 

Group Fixture 2

Denmark vs South Africa

Date: Sunday August 7th, 2016; 19H00 | Monday August 8th, 2016 02H00 (CAT)

Venue: Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasília; Brazil

 

Group Fixture 3

South Africa vs Iraq

Date: Wednesday August 10th, 2016; 22H00 | Thursday August 11th, 2016 03H00 (CAT)

Venue: Arena Corinthians, São Paulo; Brazil

The Grandstand View

Owen Da Gama is a man caught in a very precarious situation; his team overcame the odds to qualify for the Olympic Games, without anything near the level of support one needs to regularly pull off such a majestic feat, the pressure will now be on him to ensure that the newfound expectations of a demanding public are met, starting with three respectable performances being the bare minimum. One cannot begin to understand how ODG is feeling, the pressure of overseeing a successful campaign will be new to him in this position, as there was little pressure and expectation on the side during the earlier rounds of qualifying; the pressure seemed to intensify as the dream became more and more of a reality, and now the dreamers have heaped expectations on the man affectionately known as Rubber Doll to deliver the stuff of legends.

The comparison of the Class of 2000 and the current crop of players would be unfair for many a reason, yet the latent fact is that this selection looks a tad bit weaker on paper, which is unfortunate, when one regards the progress we expect ourselves to have made as a nation and a fraternity after 16 years and 3 Olympic cycles worth of experience, planning and implementation. South African football cannot grow as it should, when we are still having to deal with favouritism of certain club’s and agent’s players, club vs country tug-of-war’s that are intentionally going unmediated, and a general lack of proactive thinking, planning, implementation & ingenious corrective measures when it comes to handling the logistical side of our national teams.

One can only wonder how long our talents will continue to mask the shambles that is our football fraternity. The 2016 Rio Olympic Games may be a wakeup call for South African football administrators in more ways than one. If we can achieve any ounce of measurable success with a team that if far from our best composition of u/23 players, the powers that be will be left knowing that we could have achieved even more with proper planning and implementation. Lord forbid we become the whipping boys of a group almost as open as our 2000 one, a group that comprised of Brazil, Japan & Slovakia, South African football would have to do a lot of much needed soul searching to find solutions to our deeper lying problems; our team should, at the very least, not be losing to teams like Denmark & Iraq at any level, and these tests will be a gauge of where we truly stand in terms of progressing towards any success regarding Vision 2022.

By @MCPetjeIII

Reintroducing; A Contemporary Cape Town City Football Club

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The Golden Days | Cape Town City F.C Throwback
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A Modern Feel | Cape Town City F.C 16/17 Home Kit

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The procurement of Mpumalanga Black Aces by John Comitis and his investment group from the Morfou brothers, George and Mario, has seen the return of Cape Town City Football Club, and the Comitis family to football in the Cape. In a surprise move that seemed to come out of left-field, last season’s 4th placed side lost their coach, and over half of their personnel during the great migration from Mpumalanga to Cape Town. John Comitis and his family oversaw the growth of Ajax Cape Town from a microwave satellite team, into one of the biggest clubs in South Africa, and a leading institution on the continent in terms of youth development and scouting of young players. This was all before a tumultuous split that saw Ari Efstathiou and his brothers buying out the Comitis family, after the two groups were at loggerheads regarding the running of the cub, and the direction they wanted to take. This return is seen as a direct challenge to Ajax Cape Town, who have been largely unchallenged as a powerhouse on the Coast since the demise of Santos & AmaZulu; Chippa United have added a distinct flair to the region, but the market is wide open for another club to grow into a household brand in years to come.

Ajax Cape Town/ Cape Town City Rivalry

Buying a franchise, and moving it from Mpumalanga to the Cape just to spite a former business associate may not be the way John Comitis does business; but the move and its resulting statements have all seemed to point towards settling a vendetta, by building another powerhouse club in Cape Town. The rivalry between the two clubs has already heated up before the first ever encounter, if this burning passion to beat Ajax Cape Town on & off the field creates a healthy level of competition within the league, Mzansi diski will be better off for it. The question now becomes whether Cape Town City FC can do what Ajax CT, and most other local teams, have continually failed to do, attract supporters to the stadium and create an infectious feel good culture around the club.

The Cape Town City Brand

The forward thinking nature of the brand has already been displayed in how they have looked to use social media to engage their fans on selecting an away kit for the season ahead; a modern thinking club will resonate well with Millennial’s, many of whom are more concerned with international football to support local teams. There has been some speculation as to whether this new franchise has or will look to build any relations with a foreign based super club like Manchester City, who have steadily gone about establishing roots in various continents across the globe, the rumour has it that the previous links established with the Manchester based side, as Mpumalanga Black Aces, will be renewed going forward. We may not yet be fully privy to the modus operandi at Cape Town City Football Club, but the coming weeks and months will go a long way towards giving us a clearer view of what they will bring to South African football.

A Brief History…

Cape Town City Football Club

Bio

Years Active: 1962 – 1977; 2016 –

Previous League: National Football League (Former Whites-only League)

Former Home Ground: Hartleyvale Stadium, Observatory; Cape Town

Home Colours: Gold & Blue

Notable Former Chairmen: Ian Taylor & W. Gradner

Notable Former Coaches: Reg Smith, Frank Lord & Roy Bailey

Notable Former Players: Ben Anderson, Richard Allen, Gary Bailey (England International), Tony Brimacombe, Tommy Claxton, Mick Channon (England International), Roger Coetzee, Tony Coleman, Andy Donnelly, George Eastham (England International), Brian Edgley, Jóhannes Eðvaldsson (Icelandic International), Gary France, Terry Gulliver, Ken Hewkins, Willie Hunter (Welsh International), Sir Geoff Hurst (England International), Dave Huson, Kai Johansen (Danish International), Kevin Keegan (England International), John Keirs, John Livingstone, Leon Kubic, Eric Logan, Vic Lovell, Peter Lorimer (Scottish International), George Graham Martin (South African International), Jimmy Morrison, Andy McBride, Andy McQuarrie, Don McKenzie, George Mulhall (Scottish International), Bill O’Grady, Yilmaz Orhan, Calvin Palmer, Frank “Jingles” Pereira, Jackie Plenderleith (Scottish International), John Rowlands, Ken Scott, John Sissons, Ian St John (Scottish International), Albert Uytenbogaardt (South African International), Roy Vernon (Welsh International), Mickey Walsh (Irish International), Jackie Wren & Ernie Yard

Honours:

NFL (National Football League) – Champions, 1973, 1976; Runners-Up, 1965, 1970, 1971 & 1974

Castle (NFL) Cup – Winners, 1970, 1971 & 1976; Runners-Up, 1969

UTC Bowl – Winners, 1971 & 1973; Runners-Up, 1965

Champion of Champions – Winners, 1971, 1972 & 1974

Coca-Cola Shield – Runners-Up, 1970 & 1975

The Grand Stand View

Chairman John Comitis has promised a return of the entertaining Friday Night Football that would see crowds of 25 000 fans packing into Hartleyvale Stadium to watch Cape Town City FC, and their team of stars, many of whom were household names that had plied their trade in Europe prior. The City of Cape Town will be spoilt for choice, as another club enters an already saturated market, with a deep talent pool. The transfer policy at Cape Town City FC may take some time to iron out, or even truly critique; but the pressure is already on the club to put their cheque book where their figurative mouth is, and acquire the calibre of players that will enable them to survive, and excel in the 2016/2017 ABSA Premiership season.

The 14 odd players remaining from the Mpumalanga Black Aces roster were said to have been selected by Mushin Ertuğral, before he chose to take up the vacancy at Orlando Pirates, but the new Cape Town City FC gaffer, Eric Tinkler & his assistant Calvin Marlin, may have their own ideas of which players are required for the task at hand. It will be interesting to watch how the new club gets by as they endeavour to pass the teething stage of this transition, with Technical Director Craig Rosslee being tasked to oversee matters on the ground; many of us will be rooting for the club to succeed, because another thriving local club only strengthens our league and national sides. The rumoured interest in luring Steven Pienaar back to Cape Town, where he enjoyed great success in a Comitis owned Ajax CT, will surely spike up interest in the club; the arrival of a marquee player or two could be the perfect start towards usurping Ajax Cape Town as the kings of the Mother City.

Half-Time Orange For Thought; The 40/40 Club, Kyrie Irving & LeBron James Make History

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Dissected with the attention to detail of a legendary Masterchef 2nd season casting outcast , your good mate Uncle Bob serves up his weekly Half-Time Orange For Thought; a mental morsel for the sports fanatic with a healthy appetite for wholesome consumables. We at GSV have reluctantly declared ourselves accountable for any digestion difficulties that may or may not occur. Enjoy!

The 2016 NBA Playoffs have been a rollercoaster ride for any basketball fan; while some pairings gave us match-ups that delivered arguably the most competitive tussles we’ve seen in the playoffs for recent years, the Cleveland Cavaliers steadily dealt with the considerably lesser challengers they faced en-route to the Finals. Many will argue that the Toronto Raptors were a tough team to beat for the Cavs, yet that would still mean that the Raptors would remain the toughest obstacle the Cavs had to overcome in a much weaker Eastern Conference, that didn’t pose too much danger to the Cavaliers to start with.

The Finals were billed up to be a blockbuster movie like sequel to last year’s compelling series, where an injury depleted Cavs were beaten by a hungrier and fitter Golden State Warriors team that showed their class; a fully fit and firing Cavs were expected to give the defending Champions a run for their money, and take the series all the way to the wire. Much of the expectation hasn’t been met, on both sides of the court, the Warriors are winning without their leading men having fully got going, Stephen Curry has had to deal with offish shooting nights and a some taxing defensive shifts; while the Cavs have Kevin Love back in relatively good health, but his output has led many to question if they are actually better off without him in the starting five. The Cavaliers headed into Game 5 of the Finals 3-1 down, knowing that they needed their two stars to step up and get them the win they so desperately needed to keep themselves in the race for that elusive crown of NBA Champions, and boy did they step up, and some…

Guard Kyrie Irving and Forward LeBron James put on a dominant shooting display that literally seeped the confidence and joy out of the Warriors team and fans in a packed Oracle Arena. In what appeared to be a shooting challenge within a game, the Cavs star men combined to win the game for their team, and find a way to have fun while making history. A 40+ point night for both All-Stars saw them become only the 5h pair in the history of the NBA to combine for 80+ points in an NBA playoff game where each teammate scores 40, the Cavs pair also etched their names into the history books by becoming the first duo to do so in the NBA Finals. Welcome to the 40/40 Club lads!

The 40/40 Club (40+ Points By Teammates In The Same Playoff Game)

Date Round Game Team & Opponent Score Duo
March 29th, 1962 Western Division Finals Game 4 Lakers vs Pistons 117 – 118 Elgin Baylor (45) & Jerry West (41)
April 4th, 1988 Western Conference First Round Game 2 Rockets vs Mavericks 119 – 108 Eric Augustus “Sleepy” Floyd (42) & Hakeem Olajuwon (40)
May 5th, 1995 Western Conference First Round Game 4 Rockets vs Jazz 123 – 106 Clyde Drexler (41) & Hakeem Olajuwon (40)
June 5th, 2000 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Game 1 Pacers vs 76ers 108 – 91 Reggie Miller (40) & Jalen Rose (40)
June 13th, 2016 Finals Game 5 Cavaliers vs Warriors 112 – 97 Kyrie Irving (41) & LeBron James (41)

Its Winning Time; South Africa vs Gambia 2017 Afcon Qualifier

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South African football followers should be used to this all too familiar predicament; standing on the brink of yet another failure to qualify for a major international competition, knowing that our fate rests upon us changing our fortunes while also hoping for a downturn in form for other teams in our group and a few others. It was only natural for the announcement of the squad to come with less scepticism as much of the hope has been deflated out of the nation with little to no sign of improvement in the offing from our Commander In Chief. The squad itself has some interesting inclusions and omissions with our midfield offering some exciting combinations that the gaffer can use to inspire the charges to a dominant win over Gambia, who themselves have failed to muster a win and have only scored a single goal in their 4 qualifiers in Group M thus far. South Africa are yet to win a game in the group and now would be the perfect time to show the nation that they are prepared to fight for our national pride and put on the calibre of performance that restores that deflated air of confidence within our senior national football team.

Bafana Bafana Preliminary Squad

 

Goalkeepers

Name Club Age Height 2015/16 Stats
Itumeleng Khune Kaizer Chiefs FC 28 1, 81m 20 Games, 20 Goals Conceded & 6 Clean Sheets
Jackson Mabokgwane Mpumalanga Black Aces FC 28 1, 75m 11 Games, 11 Goals Conceded & 4 Clean Sheets
Brighton Mhlongo Orlando Pirates FC 25 1, 87m 20 Games, 18 Goals Conceded & 7 Clean Sheets

 

Defenders

Name Club Position/s Age Height 2015/16 Stats
Ramahlwe Mphahlele Mamelodi Sundowns FC RB/CB 26 1, 76m 24 Games, 2 Assists & 2 Yellow Cards
Thabo Matlaba Orlando Pirates FC RB/LB 28 1, 69m 26 Games, 3 Goals, 3 Assist & 6 Yellow Cards
Diamond Thopola Chippa United FC RB/LB 26   27 Games, 1 Assist & 6 Yellow Cards
Mulomowandau Mathoho Kaizer Chiefs FC CB 26 1, 90m 34 Games, 5 Goals & 6 Yellow Cards
Rivaldo Coetzee Ajax Cape Town FC CB 19 1, 79m 31 Games & 5 Yellow Cards
Teboho Langerman Mamelodi Sundowns FC LB/LW/DM 30 1, 80m 32 Games, 2 Goals, 4 Assists & 5 Yellow Cards
Sifiso Hlanti BidVest Wits FC LB 26 1, 81m 12 Games, 1 Goal, 1 Assist & 1 Yellow Card

 

Midfielders

Name Club Position/s Age Height 2015/16 Stats
Hlompho Kekana Mamelodi Sundowns FC DM 30 1, 76m 37 Games, 8 Goals, 2 Assists, 6 Yellow Cards & 1 Double Yellow/Red
Andile Jali KV Oostende DM/DLP 26 1, 72m 35 Games, 1 Goal, 2 Assists & 3 Yellow Cards
Dean Furman SuperSport United FC DM/DLP 27 1, 83m 26 Games, 1 Goal, 8 Yellow Cards & 1 Double Yellow/Red
May Mahlangu Sint-Truidense VV DLP/AM/AP (L/R/C) 27 1, 73m 19 Games, 2 Goals & 1 Yellow Card
Mpho Makola Orlando Pirates FC AM/AP(L/R/C) 30 1, 70m 27 Games, 7 Goals, 2 Assists & 3 Yellow Cards
Thulani Serero AFC Ajax DLP/AM/AP (L/R/C) 26 1, 64m 22 Games, 1 Goal, 1 Yellow Card
Mandla Masango Randers FC AM/AP(L/R/C) 26 1, 70m 27 Games, 5 Goals & 2 Yellow Cards
Thapelo Morena Bloemfontein Celtic FC AM/AP/AF/CF (L/R/C) 22 1, 70m 29 Games, 6 Goals, 1 Assist
Keagan Dolly Mamelodi Sundowns FC AM/AP(L/R/C) 23 1, 70m 37 Games, 7 Goals, 7 Assists & 4 Yellow Cards
Sibusiso Vilakazi BidVest Wits FC AM/AP/AF/DLF 26 1, 70m 28 Games, 8 Goals, 3 Assists & 1 Yellow Card

 

Forwards

Name Club Age Height 2015/16 Stats
Thamsanqa Gabuza Orlando Pirates FC 28 1, 83m 18 Games, 2 Goals, 2 Assists & 3 Yellow Cards
Ndumiso Mabena Platinum Stars FC 29 1, 80m 25 Games, 10 Goals, 3 Assists, 2 Yellow Cards & 2 Red Cards
Thobani Mncwango Polokwane City FC 28 1, 80m 29 Games, 12 Goals, 1 Assist & 1 Yellow Card

 

South Africa vs Gambia 2017 African Cup of Nations Qualifier

Date: Saturday June 4th, 2016

Venue: Independence Stadium, Bakau; Gambia

The Grandstand View

The return of Ramahlwe Mphahlele will be a welcome one for many fans and players alike, Rama is arguably the best natural right full back in the Bafana fold and this window of opportunity is one the Mamelodi Sundowns skipper needs to grasp as he seeks to stake his claim for the starting role moving forward. A consistent defence offers our team a solid foundation that allows us to play more adventurously in attacking positions with the knowledge that the defensive unit is cohesive enough to deal with threats posed on the counter-attack.

Bafana Bafana are gifted with many talented midfield players that can be said to have underperformed collectively in the Green & Gold; the recall of May Mahlangu could inspire a change of fortunes within the current setup, May has matured enough to conduct that orchestra and follow-up those glimpses of brilliance he showed previously. Keagan Dolly is another marvellous talent that has been on the fringes of the senior national team setup for a while and his brilliant performances at club and junior international level have forced him into the fray and presented us with an opportunity to try some new combinations in our midfield. A naturally left-sided player has been much needed for Bafana Bafana, we can now have a far more balanced midfield that can pose more dynamic treats to the opposition and offer us more goal threats.

Regardless of how long the odds are, we have to have faith in what we can control while praying for fate to turn in our favour; a win against Gambia is essential as it gives us the morale boost we need going into the final group match against Mauritania, where another win could have us reaching for our calculators and abacuses while glancing at the permutations.