New-look Bafana team for Gabon
THULANI Serero has been declared fit for Bafana Bafana's friendly clash against Gabon at Mbombela stadium on Friday as interim coach Steve Komphela prepares to field his fringe players, particularly in search of answers to the team's problem area up-front.
Komphela has released five of the players from his squad, all of whom were fielded in both of South Africa's World Cup qualifiers over the past two weekends - the 1-1 opening draw against Ethiopia in Rustenburg, and the draw by the same scoreline against Botswana in Gaborone on Saturday.
Captain Steven Pienaar, defender Bongani Khumalo, midfielder Thanduyise Khuboni and striker Katlego Mphela all started both games, while Oupa Manyisa was a substitute in the first qualifier and started the second.
"Initially we called up a big squad because we had three back-to-back clashes and wanted to have cover in various positions in case of injuries," Komphela said.
"We've seen what the five that we released can give us, and now this is a chance to have a look at other players.
"At the same time we also had to reserve some respect to the opposition and not make wholesale changes to our squad. We still need continuity and we believe the players that are remaining will provide the balance to tackle Gabon on Friday."
Serero missed the Ethiopia qualifier as he was given leave to mourn the death of his father. He returned to the squad last week, but incurred a groin injury on Friday, and was ruled out against Botswana.
The Ajax Amsterdam forward, who has struggled for game time in his first season in Holland, is expected to get a start against the 49th-ranked Gabonese.
"Serero is ready for action," Komphela said yesterday.
"He had a full training session and the medical team has given us the go-ahead to use him."
The interim coach, who has taken charge of Bafana's three games over the current three-week period after the sacking of Pitso Mosimane, is likely to give a run to strikers Tokelo Rantie and Eleazar Rodgers on Friday night.
"It is about being logical. We are facing Gabon. Why not go to Mbombela and give everyone an opportunity? We should use friendly matches to see what other players have to offer," the coach said.
Orlando Pirates' Andile Jali and Swedish-based May Mahlangu should come into Komphela's midfield, while Bloemfontein Celtic's Eric Mathoho is likely to replace Khumalo in central defence.