Ex-Bafana defender backs Mkhalele’s decision to snub ‘Big 3’ players from final COSAFA Cup squad

A former Bafana Bafana defender has voiced support for Helman Mkhalele's decision to exclude players from the “big three” clubs – Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, and Mamelodi Sundowns – in the final COSAFA Cup squad.

Last week, Mkhalele announced a provisional 50-man squad that included several players from the big three, including Orlando Pirates' starlet Relebohile Mofokeng.

However, the final 23-man squad, revealed on Friday, featured no players from Gauteng's so-called big three clubs.

Apart from Mofokeng, notable omissions from the final squad also include Sipho Chaine, Thalente Mbatha, Samkelo Zwane, Siyabonga Mabena, Lesiba Nku, Bruce Bvuma, Melusi Buthelezi, Zuki Mdunyelwa, Thabiso Monyane, and Thabiso Sesane.

Former Orlanndo Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns centre-back Benson Mhlongo understands Mkhalele's aim of selecting this group: to give them international exposure. He emphasised that the coach wasn’t just picking players to fill out the squad.

BENSON MHLONGO ON MKHALELE’S DECISION – ‘HE WOULDN’T JUST PICK ANYONE’

“I had the privilege to meet coach Mkhalele recently, and now I understand his intentions,” Mhlongo KickOff.

“Thabo Moloisane, the centre-back from Stellenbosch FC, he's grown. I've been following this boy since his days at Cape Town All Stars, and for me, he is showing progress and he is still young.

“What they are doing, the Bafana coaches, they are exposing this generation to international football, a generation that might, in the future, replace the current Bafana Bafana players.

“Coach Mkhalele wouldn't just pick anyone for the sake of adding numbers. He respects himself, he respects his job, he respects the country.

“He would never do things just to please us, he will do things for the progress.

“We always hammer him and Hugo Broos because we’re not understanding the concept of what they are trying to achieve.

“So, this is the new generation that they are trying to prepare for the national team.”

BAFANA BAFANA FINAL SQUAD FOR COSAFA CUP

GOALKEEPERS

Mondli Mpoto (Royal AM),Olwethu Mzimela (AmaZulu FC), Samukelo Xulu (SuperSport United)

DEFENDERS

Keanu Cupido (Cape Town City FC), Thabo Moloisane and Athenkosi Mcaba (both Stellenbosch FC), Thabang Matuludi (Polokwane City FC), Rushwin Dortley (Cape Town Spurs), Malebogo Modise (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sirgio Kammies (Chippa United)

MIDFIELDERS

Brooklyn Poggenpoel (Chippa United), Jaedin Rhodes (Cape Town City FC), Ethan Brooks (AmaZulu FC), Antonio van Wyk (Stellenbosch FC), Liam Bern (Cape Town Spurs)

ATTACKERS

Devin Titus (Stellenbosch FC), Mfundo Thikazi (Royal AM), Asanele Velebayi and Ashley Cupido (both Cape Town Spurs), Tshepang Moremi (AmaZulu FC), Thabang Sibanyoni (University of Pretoria), Sinoxolo Kwayiba (Chippa United), Yanela Mbuthuma (Richards Bay FC)

This year’s edition will be staged in Gqeberha, starting from 26 June to 7 July.

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Nkosiyabuya Sithole

Nkosiyabuya Sithole, a young and rising sports journalist based in Durban, South Africa, harbors a deep passion for football. Nevertheless, he aspires to become a well-rounded journalist, adept in various areas of the field.

Nkosi's career began in 2020, working as a home-based writer during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has since written for various websites, including Briefly News, FiND-iT News, and The South African. Attending live sporting events is a particular pleasure for him, as they provide opportunities for interaction with sports personalities.

Outside of the office, he's a God-fearing and affable young man.