Gordinho says the talent in Bafana's Cosafa Cup squad is ‘crazy’
South Africa’s challenge to retain their Cosafa Castle Cup title will be built on a solid foundation of the country’s under-20 team‚ with players with Premier Soccer League experience finding it easy to slot in‚ says Lorenzo Gordinho.
South Africa start the defence of the title they won in Namibia last year against Tanzania at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Sunday in the quarter-finals.
With Aubrey Ngoma departing with a knee injury‚ Gordinho is the only player left in the squad for the tournament in the North West Province who went to Nigeria earlier this month with the full Bafana Bafana outfit for a 2-0 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying win.
The squad comprises a number of the SA U-20s who did duty at last month’s Fifa U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
But the Kaizer Chiefs defender says he does not feel he carries an added weight of responsibility amid an inexperienced outfit.
“The coach (Stuart Baxter) has pointed out to us that we are all wearing the national jersey and we have to perform for ourselves‚ for our clubs‚ for our families and obviously we are representing the country at the highest level‚” he told TimesLIVE on Friday.
“Even if it is the Cosafa Cup‚ it is an international tournament and we all must do our best.
“But among the more senior guys like myself‚ Mario Booysen‚ Boalefa Pule and (Lehlogonolo) Masalesa we have to make an impact on the younger guys and bring them together‚ knowing what we know and knowing that they are a team because most of the players are from the under-20 squad.
“It makes it easier for us to be integrated with them because they are already a team. It’s being going pretty well.
“There is an enormous amount of talent. I was speaking before with some of the guys about this U-20 team‚ the amount of talent they have‚ the depth they have and the understanding they have with one another as players.
“It’s crazy! They play regularly with one another and it makes it easier for us to come in.
“And even for the coach to know that this team has played together before‚ and that they understand each other‚ and so it’s not putting individuals together. We’ve become a structured team.”
With the tournament falling outside Fifa’s co-ordinated international calendar‚ clubs are not obliged to release players and so the decision to use the U-20 side as the foundation is what Baxter has been left to work with.