|Willie or won't he? Surprise Bafana squad member William Twala|
SOUTH AFRICA’S once-hopeful 2013 COSAFA CUP campaign has not got off to the best of starts. Gordon Igesund’s carefully laid plans were zapped even before he’d named his original squad for a revived tournament Bafana Bafana are determined to win for the first time since 2008.
A new low was reached when SAFA announced a player with the wrong name AND club as a member of the re-selected squad – a lad called William Twala who is the ONLY Orlando Pirates player in the team, has yet to start pre-season training and knew NOTHING of his elevation.
Best we don’t actually go into the erm… animated debate between Igesund and Kaizer Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung, except to say that accusations of distorting the truth soon became proclamations of patriotism once last every one of the “exhausted” AmaKhosi players had been eased out of the 20-man squad.
Is it worth mentioning SuperSport United decided to withdraw two players because they’ve got a friendly with Manchester City at Loftus?
Ultimately, having already left out goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and the overseas contingent, Igesund was forced to release NINE more in his second attempt with only Twala featuring from the Buccaneers and AmaKhosi.
Out went our number-one-in-waiting Ronwen Williams and SuperSport team-mate Kermit Erasmus, young defenders Thabo Nthethe, Tefu Mashamaite and Mulomowandau “Tower” Mathoho and Tebogo Langerman and those old hands, Reneilwe “YeYe” Letsholonyane, Siphiwe “Shabba” Tshabalala and the elusive Bernard “Scores Where He Wants” Parker.
In their place? A host of lesser known players: Siyabonga Mpontshane, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Sibusiso Khumalo, Musa Bilankulu, Lehlohonolo Nonyane, Lance Davids, Sibusiso Msomi, Lerato Chabangu, and a certain William Twala.
COSAFA SENIOR CUP FASCINATING FACTS:
Hosts ZAMBIA are the highest rated Council of Southern Africa Football Associations member at 49 on the latest FIFA rankings. SOUTH AFRICA are second best at 60.
Losing quarter-finalists will enter a PLATE competition, more akin to sevens rugby than FIFA football tournaments.
The 14 member countries of COSAFA are Angola, Botswana, Comores, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Associate Member Reunion.
Zimbabwe was the COSAFA Cup FOUR times, while South Africa, Angola and Zambia have won three each (see table below).
New COSAFA offices in Parkhurst, Johannesburg were offically opened by CAF President Dr Isa Hayatou on February this year.
The competiton was launched in 1997 – when Zambia won it – and was staged in various forms every year until 2009. This year marks the return of the event after it was cancelled when hosts Angola withdrew in 2010. Last year’s attempted revival – scheduled for Malawi – was cancelled.
2000, 2003, 2005, 2009
1997, 1998, 2006
1999, 2001, 2004
2002, 2007, 2008
Though he was announced as “Siyabonga Thwala of Chippa United”, a quick check on the man of that name at Amazulu revealed a slight glitch.
Instead, it appears South Africa had indeed turned to William Twala in their hour of need – a 23-year-old who played for doomed Chippa United on loan from Pirates after moving to Orlando from National First Division club FC AK in January 2012.
Turns out he hasn’t even begun training with the rest of Roger de Sa’s squad who returned to pre-season last week as he was NOT amongst those named for the Champions League campaign starting against Congo’s AC Leopards on July 20 at Orlando.
Twala – listed by Bafana as a striker but by other sources as a midfielder - appeared as bewildered as anybody by his selection. With no junior squad squads apparent for a while, that has become the nature of South African international football selection. Find a promising player, hope you’ve got his about name right, shout it out at a press conference and hope he gets to hear.
In the end it was a lad called Christopher Maqashu at kickoff.com who found (as far as we know) the right Twala – though he knew nothing of his elevation to international football from the obscure depths of a troubled loan spell at Chippa which ended on the play-off trapdoor.
The first call to Twala elicited a "Really? I’ll call my manager quickly." While the second (presumably after confirmation) went like this: “I don’t know what to say, it's like I’m dreaming… but I’m very happy. My father just confirmed the news to me now.
“At the moment I’ve just arrived in Johannesburg from Cape Town, I’m going back to Pirates, and it’s up to them if they are going to let me go and join the national team.”
I guess Igesund will hold his breath until then. I hear he’s already blue in the face.
The great irony of course, is that South Africa will be one of the privileged sides when the tournament gets underway in Zambia on Saturday with Namibia – under new management with Ricardo Mannetti – taking on politically-powerful islanders Mauritius.
But at the last minute we lost oil-rich Equatorial Guinea – currently under FIFA investigation after yet another attempt to field a side comprised purely of foreigners (mostly Brazilians). They claimed a fortnight ago they didn't have the funds to get to Zambia (this from one of the richest nations in Africa) so they won't be playing against the islanders of the Seychelles, not to be confused with recent Confederations Cup whipping boys Tahiti.
South Africa need hardly bother about all this. Given their seeded status, Bafana only get underway a week later in the second of the quarter-finals on July 13.
For the less privileged (though they may know the proper names of their entire squad), a tough group stage first has to be endured. South Africa will play the winners of Group A in the last eight – probably western neighbours Namibia, thought Seychelles and Mauritius will attempt to stop the Africans with a German flavour.
Seeded Angola will take on the winners of Group B, which includes Bafana’s last World Cup qualifying rivals Botswana, world No123 Kenya plus our neighbours Swaziland and Lesotho.
Assuming South Africa come through their quarter-final, they then play either 2012 AFCON champions Zambia or Sundowner Elias Pelembe’s Mozambique.
That will take place at the 44,000-capacity Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on July 17, with the final and third-place play-off both on July 20 at the same venue in Ndola.
Quarter-final failure doesn’t mean Bafana go home though – Igesund will have to endure a rate plate semi-final and final according to the tournament schedule.
Igesund’s take? “I'm quite happy with the changes we had to make. We've got a masterplan. That's to develop kids that will come through and this is an opportunity for players to play in a tournament that is important."
HOW THE TOURNAMENT WORKS:
06/07/13 Day 1:
Namibia v Mauritius 14h30 (Nkoloma)
07/07/13 Day 2:
Kenya vs Lesotho 15h00 (Arthur Davies)
Botswana vs Swaziland 17h00 (Kitwe)
08/07/13 Day 3:
Namibia vs Seychelles 17h00 (Lusaka)
09/07/13 Day 4:
Lesotho vs Botswana 15h00 (Arthur Davies)
Kenya vs Swaziland 17h00 (Kitwe)
10/07/13 Day 5:
Mauritius vs Seychelles 15h00 Nkana (Kitwe)
11/07/13 Day 6:
Kenya vs Botswana 15h00 Nkana (Kitwe)
Lesotho vs Swaziland 15h00 Nkoloma
13/07/13 Day 9:
QF1: Zimbabwe vs Malawi 13h00 (Nkoloma)
QF2: South Africa vs Winner Group A 15h30 (Lusaka)
14/07/13 Day 10:
QF3: Angola vs Winner Group B 13h00 (Nkana)
QF4: Zambia vs Mozambique 15h30 (Kitwe)
16/07/13 DAY 12:
LOSER QF1 VS LOSER QF3 15h00 (ARTHUR DAVIES)
DAY 12: LOSER QF2 VS LOSER QF4 17h00 (KITWE)
17/06/13 DAY 13:
WINNER QF1 VS WINNER QF3 17h00 (LEVY)
WINNER QF2 VS WINNER QF4 20h00 (MWANAWASA)
18/06/13 DAY 14:
WINNER PLATE SF1 VS WINNER PLATE SF2 15h00 (KITWE)
19/06/13 DAY 15: REST DAY
20/06/13 DAY 16:
LOSER SF1 VS LOSER SF2 @ 13:00 (MWANAWASA)
WINNER SF1 VS WINNER SF2 @ 15:00 (NDOLA)
FINALISED BAFANA SQUAD *pending Bobby’s proclamations
Goalkeepers: Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyabonga Mpontshane (Platinum Stars)
Defenders: Sibusiso Khumalo, Bevan Fransman (SuperSport United), Buhle Mkhwanazi (University of Pretoria), Musa Bilankulu (Bidvest Wits), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Ajax Cape Town), Lehlohonolo Nonyane (Jomo Cosmos), Tshepo Gumede (Platinum Stars)
Midfielders: Sibusiso Msomi (Platinum Stars), Lerato Chabangu (Moroka Swallows), Jabulani Shongwe, Hlompho Kekana (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Luyolo Nomandela (Free State Stars), Ruzaigh Gamildien (Bloemfontein Celtic), Lance Davids, Lebogang Manyana (both Ajax Cape Town)
Forwards: Katlego Mashego (Moroka Swallows), William Twala (Chippa United) and Thabani Mthembu (Platinum Stars)