JOHANNESBURG – Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki will use the long break between now and the team’s next assignment in March to look for adequate cover in certain positions, and try to convince Thomas Barkhuizen to don the green and gold.
The England-born forward, who plays for Preston North End in the English Championship, is one of the stars of the league. He has scored five goals in 14 matches this season.
He qualifies to play for South Africa through his grandparents, and Ntseki will use this time between now and March to convince him to join Bafana.
“We had a technical meeting where we were discussing and profiling the team,” Ntseki said.
“Part of the things that we spoke about is that we need to have players who can come into the team, and help the current players.
“If you look at Kamo (Kamohelo Mokotjo) and Dean (Furman), these are the two obvious choices in the team. Let’s go and profile players, maybe two players who can come in.
“In the Under-23s we have Teboho Mokoena, Sipho Mbule and Athenkosi Dlala, who is playing in the first division. It is important for us to look at options in such position.
“In the attacking force we’ve got Bradley (Grobler), who is scoring for SuperSport United. We also need to get somebody who will be helping Bradley.
“I will use this break to go to England to speak to Thomas Barkhuizen, to the club and family, to see that when we are happy with his profiling, can he get a South African passport and be able to come in.”
Ntseki’s first two competitive matches in charge of the team tested his tactical acumen and mental resolve, having to prepare the team in a short space of time.
Bafana had to fly to Ghana last Monday, meet up with the overseas-based players the following day, face the Black Stars on Thursday, return home the following day and then take on Sudan on Sunday. This while a ticket to Cameroon in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) was up for grabs.
“I didn’t worry much about the travelling because there was nothing that I could do about it,” Ntseki said.
“It was a decision that was made by CAF, and I couldn’t even complain to the players and say why this is happening."
“But the players came back complaining about being exhausted. We had to psyche them up and say, ‘we are all in this thing together, let’s go and work hard’.
“Against Ghana, we learned so much because of their aggressive approach and high pressure. They were pushing us off the ball with ease.”
Bafana lost 2-0 to Ghana and then bounced back to beat Sudan 1-0 at Orlando Stadium on Sunday. It’s a reasonable start, especially with back-to-back matches against the group’s whipping boys Sao Tome and Principe to follow in August.
“Going to Sao Tome and playing them at home, we should be able to be focused because if we play well in those two matches – nine points will be important to us because we are still in third place on the log because of the goals Sudan scored against Sao Tome,” Ntseki said.
“This win was important for us because we are still fighting for the qualifiers, hopefully everything will work out well for us.”