Seems like Bafana Bafana boss Hugo Broos has finally discovered the Mother City.
Well, that’s what every Cape soccer fan and player is thinking.
Last week, with the announcement of a 34-man provisional squad for next month’s World Cup 2022 qualifiers, Broos earmarked two players from the region for the first time.
And it’s about time too.
Cape Town City
Leftback Terrence Mashego and attacking midfielder Mdu Mdantsane both got the nod for the double header against Ethiopia (October 9 and 12), before Monday’s trim.
Since the Belgian’s appointment in May, no player from a Cape Town club has made the national team in the nine matches of his tenure.
I wasn’t sure what to make of the long wait to see the Cape’s players recognised, but since the kickoff of the World Cup qualifiers, there have been some grumblings in the 021 over the lack of local talent in the Bafana setup.
Ahead of the opening clashes against Zimbabwe and Ghana in September, Cape Town City’s Twitter account responded to their players being overlooked by joking that other countries had called up their players.
Then last Thursday, Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker opined that a number of CT City players should be in the national team – which worked out well for him in the derby, having flattered City into a bit of complacency.
After Monday’s final cut, only one City player remained, with Mashego set for a debut while Mdantsane will have to wait for his turn again.
Mashego has started this season like a house on fire after being a constant presence and consistent performer last term for City.
The 23-year-old joined the Citizens at the start of the last season from TS Galaxy, where he had caught the eye by helping them to a shock Nedbank Cup title.
With first-choice leftback Edmilson Dove ruled out due to surgery on a knee problem, Mashego bombed up and down the flank and sparked up a great partnership with Surprise Ralani ahead of him.
With veteran Sifiso Hlanti as the only other specialist leftback in the national squad and no real wide players elsewhere in the group, Mashego could get the nod to start for Broos.
But who really knows. The leftback position has been a weird one since Broos took the reins.
While the Belgian said that he would look to younger players and initially brought in 22-year-old Kaizer Chiefs recruit Sibusiso Mabiliso, Mamelodi Sundowns’ Lyle Lakay has been the gold standard in the position.
Tactically sound, experienced and a threat from set pieces, Lakay should be the main man at leftback.
But I digress. Mashego deserves his call-up and I hope he goes from strength to strength.
I feel bad for Mdantsane, though. What a player.
The handgranaat made an immediate impact when he joined City in 2019, becoming a reliable source of goals and a constant threat to opposition defences.
Former City boss Jan Olde Riekerink tried to rein in the 26-year-old and instill some more tactical discipline during his time in charge.
But Mdantsane’s ability to unlock defences and conjure up goals could be a big plus on the international stage.
With most of SA’s threats coming from the wide areas, the introduction of Mdantsane’s magic in the central areas if Percy Tau is shackled or unfit, could be a massive boost.
Mdantsane’s positional intelligence and link-up play from deep is of great appeal to Broos, who has seen most of his goals come off the wings, where Bongokuhle Hlongwane has been a revelation.
This week’s cut to the national team left just one foreign-based player in the squad, with talisman Tau out recovering from injury.
Another blow for Broos is that no player based in Europe made the final group.
For the coach and SA football at large, this has got to be a bitter pill to sluk.
FC Copenhagen striker Luther Singh has been left out after being earmarked as one of the future stars of the team.
But to be honest, Singh hasn’t truly stepped up on the international stage.
The Joburger has been erratic when called up.
Sloppy on the ball when in possession, constant bad decisions on it and unreliable in front of goal, the laaitie needs to do a lot of work to be THAT guy.
Broos will be hoping that local proves to be lekker as Bafana look for the six points against Ethiopia to cement their spot at the top of Group G on the road to Qatar.