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Shakes shuffles side
- Updated: November 30, 2011
Shakes Mashaba, head coach of our national Under-23 soccer side, has made some changes in the starting line up for Wednesday night’s Group B encounter against Gabon in the CAF Under-23 Championship being played in Morocco.
The tournament is a crucial step in the team’s bid to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in London.
Missing from the team that started in the 1-1 draw against Cote d’ Ivoire on Sunday at the Marrakech Stadium, are midfielder Thami Sangweni and defender Eric ÔÇ£TowerÔÇØ Mathoho.
Sangweni is suspended for the Gabon match after being red-carded and will only be eligible to play in the last group stages match against Egypt on Saturday, while Mathoho has been rested following a recommendation from the team’s medical staff.
In the absence of the duo, Mashaba has reshuffled the team.
Brilliant Khuzwayo remains in goals. The back four is made up of Phumelele ÔÇ£AceÔÇØ Bhengu at right back, captain Sibusiso Mxoyana at left back, with Thulani Hlatshwayo and Gladwin Shitolo playing in central defence.
In midfield Jabulani Shongwe of Mamelodi Sundowns comes in for Sangweni alongside Thandani Ntshumayelo, while Mandla Masango and Sameehg Doutie will playdown the flanks.
With Bhengu shifted to the back, Santos striker Riaan Eugene, who played for SA at the recent All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique, will partner Rodney Ramagalela up front.
In delivering his message to the players ahead of the match against Gabon, Mashaba said the team must build from the brave performance they displayed in the opening fixture where they were down to ten men for more than thirty minutes in the second half against a good Cote d’Ivoire team.
ÔÇ£We have worked hard in the past 48 hours preparing for this crucial match, I have seen you rising to the occasion when it matters most. Most people thought our fate was sealed by the away loss against Benin in the qualifiers, but we made the greatest comeback of all time and that’s why we are here in pursuit of the Olympic dream. Your attitude will determine your destiny, I know this team has character and tonight will not be any different,ÔÇØ said Mashaba.
South Africa and Gabon will kick off at 7.30pm South African time, followed by another Group B match between Egypt and Cote d’ Ivoire at 10.30pm. Both matches will be played at the Marrakech Stadium.
SA starting XI:
1. Brilliant Khuzwayo
2. Phumelele Bhengu
3. Sibusiso Mxoyana
4. Thulani Hlatshwayo
5. Gladwin Shitolo
6. Thandani Ntshumayelo
7. Jabulani Shongwe
8. Mandla Masango
9. Sameegh Doutie
10. Riaan Eugene
11. Rodney Ramagalela