“It’s a great feeling to be called-up again,” enthuses Siphiwe Tshabalala after hearing about his call-up for Bafana Bafana. “It’s an honour to be back in the national team. I want to make a real contribution, as I don’t want to be there just to add numbers.”
Coach Stuart Baxter has also included Itumeleng Khune and Erick Mathoho in the South African national team squad.
It was Kaizer Chiefs’ administrational manager Abdulla Mayet, who informed the surprised, but elated ‘Shabba’ about the national call-up, which is for the two crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Senegal on Friday, 10 November, and on Tuesday, 14 November 2017. The first game will be at Peter Mokaba Stadium (kick-off at 19:00), while the return match will be played at Dakar’s Léopold Sédar Senghor Stadium (21:30).
The Chiefs midfielder has gained 88 caps for the South African national team, scoring 12 times.
“I have been working hard,” continues Tshabalala, who hasn’t played for Bafana for almost four years. “I continued to believe in myself. The key is consistency. I do what I love and I love football. Playing soccer is also not only about the individual, the team must come first. I hope that my experience as a player can help South Africa qualify for the World Cup in Russia.”
When queried about Bafana Bafana’s chances to still qualify for the 2018 World Cup, he comments, “I am very positive that we still stand an excellent chance.”
However, before the South African national team qualifiers, Kaizer Chiefs still have a few important matches coming up, with the first coming on Saturday, 28 October, in a Telkom Knockout Last 16 fixture against AmaZulu at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.
“The Telkom Knockout is an opportunity for us to win some silverware,” the 33-year-old says. “The game against AmaZulu won’t be easy, but a win would bring us a step closer to our goal and that’s to win a trophy this season.”
Chiefs host AmaZulu in a game at home away from home at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday, 28 October (kick-off is at 20:15).
Tickets are sold at TicketPro outlets nationwide for R40 adults and R15 juveniles. TicketPro outlets are found at Jet Mart Store, Edgars, CNA and select Spar and Postnet. Parking tickets cost R20.
Bafana Bafana squad
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Wayne Sandilands and Ronwen Williams.
Defenders: Thamsanqa Mkhize, Clayton Daniels, Erick Mathoho, Motjeka Madisha, Morgan Gould, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Tebogo Langerman and Sifiso Hlanti.
Midfielders: Hlompho Kekana, Dean Furman, Keagan Dolly, Andile Jali, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Themba Zwane, Bongani Zungu, Thulani Serero, Lebogang Manyama and Siphiwe Tshabalala.
Strikers: Percy Tau, Bradley Grobler and Dino Ndlovu.