Cosafa Cup an audition for Bafana places
South Africa enter a competitive arena for a second time in three weeks but the team they will field against Tanzania in the Cosafa Cup today has little in common with a magnificent victory last month in Uyo, Nigeria.
A few might call this side Bafana Bafana but there is no fooling the public that this is anything but a patchwork team.
Coach Stuart Baxter has done his best to make what he can of limited ingredients and has been trying to talk up the development aspect of the event, where South Africa have had a bye past the group stages into today's quarterfinal at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
The coach has been aware it is likely to be even worse for him in July when he must find players for the two 2018 African Nations Championship qualifiers against Botswana.
Find of last season
Safa have clearly earmarked Cosafa and Chan as tournaments in which SA will field developmental combinations, with the senior team left to focus on qualification for World Cup 2018 and the 2019 Afcon. Baxter will use the basis of the side who played at the U-20 World Cup in South Korea in May, propped up by Lorenzo Gordinho, Mario Booysen, Judas Moseamedi and Lehlogonolo Masalesa.
Former Wits and Orlando Pirates midfielder Masalesa, now at Larisa in Greece, has been named as captain.
There is also Nduduzo Sibiya from Golden Arrows, one of the finds of the last season. Aubrey Ngoma aggravated an old knee injury that he has been carrying through the season and is set for months on the sidelines.
If it was unlucky and not Safa's fault, it is no wonder clubs are so reticent to let their players go off on international duty and why so few agree to such call-ups outside the dates when they are obliged to do so by Fifa's international calendar.
South Africa's entry comes at the quarterfinal stage because they are one of the six seeded teams, on top of being defending champions. Tanzania topped Group A with five points from a 2-0 win against Malawi plus 0-0 and 1-1 draws against Angola and Mauritius.
The East Africans are guests in the tournament after Comoros Islands did not enter. TimesLIVE..