Our writer previews the international friendly contested between South Africa and Guinea-Bissau.
The nation will come together again as Bafana Bafana host Guinea-Bissau in an international friendly in Durban this Saturday. There will be plenty of new faces in the Bafana camp, trying out the yellow and green jersey for the first time in their careers.
Along with the fresh young talent, caretaker manager, Owen da Gama, has brought in some familiar faces, most notably Kermit Erasmus. South Africa’s 14-match unbeaten run will be put to the test against a Guinea-Bissau side who finished off their 2017 AFCON campaign without a victory under their belt.
International Friendly | Saturday 25 March | Moses Mabhida Stadium | 15:00
To Win (90 Mins)
South Africa 4/10 | Draw 3/1 | Guinea-Bissau 11/2
A new era in South African football is looming, with Bafana Bafana set to name their new coach in the coming days. In the meantime, Owen da Gama will take charge and what a squad he has named.
The new additions of Lorenzo Gordinho, Phakamani Mahlambi, Lebogang Manyama, Luther Singh and Percy Tau show that our country is going in the right direction in terms of football.
The two upcoming friendlies will be the perfect test for Bafana with Guinea-Bissau and Angola proving to be fairly decent opposition. Nicknamed the African Wild Dog, Guinea-Bussau were far from vicious in the African Cup of Nations tournament in January. The West-African side were the only team to lose in their AFCON group, finishing rock-bottom with just one point from three games.
South Africa will be hoping to make it 15 games without tasting defeat when they play in Durban. The goalkeeping department has been the most competitive it’s been in many years. Shu-Aib Walters, who turns 36 this year, deservedly received a call-up after a number of stand-out performances for title-chasing Cape Town City.
Itumeleng Khune’s number one spot has never been challenged like this before. There’s still the likes of Brighton Mhlongo, Ronwen Williams, Jackson Mabokgwane, Reyaad Pieterse and Jody February all out the squad.
Defending is key in every sort of match and you need a tight defence. Kaizer Chiefs’ Gordinho will be looking to make a name for himself on the international stage after forming such a resolute partnership alongside Eric ‘Tower’ Mathoho for much of the PSL campaign.
Youngsters, Gordinho and Rivaldo Coetzee, are around decent company in the Bafana national team. And they’ll have some decent cover further up the pitch as well. Sundowns’ trio of Hlompho Kekana, Themba Zwane and Tiyani ‘Shuga’ Mabunda all have what it takes to be in the starting line-up for South Africa. However, with Dean Furman, Andile Jali and Thulani Serero, competition could be tough, not to mention top scorer in the PSL, Manyama, whose name really should be one of the first on the team sheets.
Out wide is where Bafana really look threatening. Teenage sensation, Luther Singh, says that the senior call-up to join the Bafana Bafana squad is a dream come true.”I never saw myself playing for Bafana at age 19. My target was 21, “But then again, I have worked hard, so I’m not surprised, “I’ll get an opportunity to be with Keagan Dolly. There’s Thulani Serero as well. I have looked up to these players. Training with them will be a big thing for me,” Singh told reporters.
The boy has quality and it will be a great test to see him challenge Dolly, Thabo Mnyamane and another bright young talent in the form of Tau. Sundowns’ next big sensation has been in fine form for the African champions this season. Tau is Downs’ highest goalscorer with six goals to his name.
Da Gama will have a few headaches when selecting his team for the upcoming friendlies. You would think that with Kermit Erasmus back in the side, he would immediately get the nod. However, with Phakamani Mahlambi in the fold, that will not be the case. We’re yet to truly see Lars Veldwijk in action, but I also wouldn’t rule him out of the equation. Mahlambi, though, will offer South Africa something much different. The 19-year old Bidvest Wits striker can take on defenders with his blistering pace and has an eagle-eye for goal.
Guinea-Bissau are currently ranked 80th in FIFA rankings, while Bafana occupy 62nd spot. The two countries have never played each other so this will be Guinea-Bissau’s first taste of kasi flavour when they travel to the Moses Mabhida Stadium. With this new-look national team, it promises to be a thrilling encounter.
Verdict: South Africa (7/10)
Despite being managerless at the time and under the care of Owen da Gama, South Africa still look the better of the two sides. Guinea-Bissau have been dismal away from home, recording just one win in their last 12 travels.
Bafana Bafana should win this one, and I would even go as far as saying that it could be a high-scoring one-sided affair. South Africa are unbeaten in 14 matches, including notable victories over Egypt and Senegal. For that reason, back the hosts to pick up yet another victory.
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets