Celtic Duo Make The Bafana Cut

  • Not only is Sam’s call to the national team indispensable, it’s befitting and serves as reward for his hard work and dedication, says Komphela.

A strong 23-man Bafana Bafana squad that will do duty in the 2019 Cosafa Cup was named on Tuesday.

The competition kicks off on Saturday, May 25 with David Notoane set to stand in as Bafana coach in place of Stuart Baxter, who is busy with preparations for the upcoming Afcon 2019 tournament.

One of the well-deserved players that made the cut is Bloemfontein Celtic defender Bongani Sam, who put up a sterling performance for Siwelele. 

Former head coach Steve Komphela gave Sam his big Absa Premiership break when they arrived at Celtic at the beginning of the 2018/19 season, leading to the 20-year-old playing 14 league games, and being voted man of the match several times.

The announcement of him making the national call up came as no surprise to mant football fans.

But with Thendo Mukumela (Ajax), Keanu Cupido (Cape Town), Reeve Frosler (Chiefs), Tercious Malepe (Chippa), Katlego Mohammed (SuperSport), and Sandie Mthethwa (Richards Bay) also in the team, Sam might have a difficult time making the starting line-up.

In a surprising move, there is a decent smattering of players plying their trade in the National First Division, with Nedbank Cup hero Zakhele Lepasa from TS Galaxy also included alongside Ajax Cape Town duo of Grant Magerman and Darren Johnson.

Midfielders include Teboho Mokoena (Supersport), Athenkosi Dlala (Supersport) , Keagan Dolly (Montpellier), Sipho Mbule (Supersport), Kamohelo Mahlatsi (Supersport) Grant Margeman (Ajax), Jamie Webber (Supersport) Kgaogelo Sekgota (Vitoria Setubal, Portugal).

“Any chance to represent the national team is a blessing and am truly happy and honoured to be among those that will serve their country,” said Sam. 

While he was proud of his performance at club level, which earned himself being nominated as Young Players Of the Year in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), Sam explained that he was looking forward to making an impression where it matters the most. 

“Am proud of the work I put it at club level. I think I did well there. Am looking forward to making the same impression for the national team,” he said, adding while the national team was a different ball game, he was more than ready to put in the work and come out shining on the other side.

Fellow teammate Mondli Mpoto also impressed national team selectors. The Celtic goalkeeper will battle it out with Darren Johnson (Ajax Cape Town) and Reyaad Pieterse (Mamelodi Sundowns) for the goalkeeping position.

On the front, Phakamani Mahlambi (Sundowns), Lerato Lepasa (TS Galaxy), Jemondre Dickens (Baroka ), Luther Singh (GD Chaves, Portugal) and Liam Jordan (Koge FC, Denmark) will be expected to deliver the goods.

South Africa will take on Botswana in the quarter-finals. The four winning quarter-finalists will progress to the Cup semi-finals, while the losing sides will compete in the Plate competition. The COSAFA Cup is set to be played in Durban from May 25 to June 8.

Reflecting on the call-up, Komphela regarded Sam’s inclusion in the national team as indispensable and befitting.

“Not only is his call to the national team indispensable, but it’s  also befitting and serves as reward for his hard work and dedication,” said Komphela.

By: Thapelo Molebatsi