Shakes hoping to ‘switch-on’ Bafana

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Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba admits it may be slightly difficult to ‘switch-on’ his players for the forthcoming internationals starting next week.

South Africa face Gambia in their opening Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Durban next Saturday, before leading his charges in a friendly against Angola days later in Cape Town.

With most of the world, including the Premier Soccer League (PSL), enjoying their off-season, the national coach will need to ensure his team will be ready for another critical passage in their history.

“It is a very difficult time for all of us in that regard, and unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it,” Mashaba said of the international break.

“With the players enjoying a break, the body tends to switch off a little. But we believe our players are professional enough, and know what is expected of them.

“We have sat down to work on a training programme that will get them back in full speed as soon as possible and I am confident by match day they will give us what we want.”

South Africa are in Group M for the qualifiers and will also play Mauritania and Cameroon in their pool.

Mashaba sprung a few surprises in naming his squad earlier this week, naming Moroka Swallows striker Vuyisile Wana, Mamelodi Sundowns forward Bonginkosi Ntuli and Baroka FC attacker Gift Motupa in his 27-man squad.

The coach added: “This is a very important period for us in the national team as we attempt to repeat what we did in the 2015 qualifiers.

“We have set ourselves high standards when we qualified for the last tournament with a match to spare – and we can’t go below that.

“In selecting this squad, it was important to call up players who will be able to assist us now with their experience and also look at the future as to who will be with us in 2017. So we had to combine those two aspects; this is not the time to build but we have go for glory.”

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