09 August 2017 12:10
South Africa has been forced into a slight technical team reshuffle for the final round of the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) Kenya 2018. Head coach, Stuart Baxter, has temporarily handed over the reins to his assistant, Thabo Senong for the last hurdle.
Bafana Bafana faces high-riding Zambia in the first leg of the third and final round on Saturday, 12 August 2017 in East London, before heading for Ndola for the return seven days later.
South Africa’s last participation in the tournament designed exclusively for footballers playing in their domestic leagues is certainly one to be forgotten after they were bundled out of the competition in the group stages on home soil three years ago.
Senong has however relished the opportunity of leading the team after stints with the U-20 team, which he guided to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea last May.
“This is an exciting and a very important opportunity which I do not take lightly. CHAN is a very important tournament and we are taking it very seriously. This opportunity will help me learn while at the same time add value to the development of football,” Senong said.
The 37-year old who coached Amajita at the recent continental and global championship is wary of the danger posed by Chipolopolo who easily brushed aside Swaziland 7-0 on aggregate to set up a meeting with their familiar foes.
“We need to be very careful against them (Zambia) as they have been doing well across all their age groups. The first result at home will go a long way because the return leg in Zambia will be even harder. We need to do well here at home and avoid making it difficult for ourselves in Zambia,” he added.
Senong has received the backing of stand in captain, Mario Booysen, who urged his teammates to show the same respect to the coach.
“The coach has been with us since the COSAFA Cup and CHAN matches against Botswana so we have to respect him and be professional on how we respond to his tactics,” said Booysen.
Meanwhile, the South Africans preparations have suffered a huge setback with the withdrawal of ten players from clubs such as Amazulu, Highlands Park, Supersport United and Orlando Pirates.
The withdrawn players include Boalefa Pule, Ayabulela Konqobe, Michael Morton, Mothobi Mvala, Siyabonga Nhlapo, Denwin Farmer, Cole Alexander, Teboho Mokoena and Tercious Malepe, whilst Riyaad Norodien is out injured.
However, Young Kazier Chiefs defender, Bruce Bvuma makes a return to the squad.
Senong will put a lot of trust in the in-form Ryan Moon who was highly instrumental in Bafana’s two legged CHAN qualifier victories over Botswana, scoring in both matches.
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