Pienaar returns for Cote D’Ivore

Pretoria – Tottenham Hotspurs sensational midfielder and Bafana Bafana skipper, Steven Pienaar, is included in Pitso Mosimane’s squad to face Cote d’Ivoire in the Nelson Mandela Challenge.

Mosimane announced a 28-man squad to face the Elephants on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. Kick-off is at 3:15pm.

Goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs and Kagisho Dikgacoi returned after a long lay-off from injury, while Tsepo Masilela and Teko Modise also returned after missing the last Bafana Bafana match against Sierra Leone due to injury.

Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has been left out of the squad made up of 19 local-based players due to injury.

Four new players are Musa Bilankulu of Lamontville Golden Arrows; Granwald Scott of Ajax Cape Town; George Lebese of Kaizer Chiefs and Siyabonga Nontshinga of Jomo Cosmos.

The 17th edition of the Nelson Mandela Challenge is held in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and this is the second time that it will be played in the Province. The last time was in 2005 against Senegal.

This is also the first time that Cote D’Ivoire has been invited to this event. They are ranked 19th in the world and Number 1 on the continent, while South Africa is 49th and eighth respectively.

South Africa goes into the clash against Cote d’Ivoire with an impressive record of not losing to the number one-ranked team on the continent in four clashes.

In their first clash in 1994, the two teams played to a goalless draw at the Boet Erasmus Stadium in Port Elizabeth in the Four Nations Cup.

Four years later in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, it ended one all in the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

In 2002, the Elephants were again held to a goalless draw in Abidjan. South Africa’s win came in 2003 in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier for the 2004 edition in Tunisia.

Bafana Bafana won 2-1 at the old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, with goals coming from strikers Shaun Bartlett and Siyabonga Nomvete. The team was coached by Shakes Mashaba.

Cote d’Ivoire has named a star-studded 21-man strong squad including Captain Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Yaya and Kolo Toure, Gervinho, Emmanuel Eboue and Siaka Tiene and they are expected in South Africa on Thursday, November 10.

“We have two matches that we will be playing; hence we have called up 28 players so we don’t overburden some players.

“This is an excellent opportunity to look at other players and not have just one group. We have some exciting youngsters that have been doing well in the league and we would like to have a closer look at them, get them to understand our philosophy,” said Mosimane.

Bafana players

Goal keepers: Moneeb Josephs, Wayne Sandilands.
Defenders: Morgan Gould, Happy Jele, Siboniso Gaxa, Tsepo Masilela, Bongani Khumalo, Anele Ngcongca, Siyabonga Sangweni, Punch Masenamela, Bilankulu Musa and Bevan Fransman.
Midfielders: Claasen Daylon, Hlompho Kekana, Oupa Manyisa, Thanduyise Khuboni, Simphiwe Tshabalala, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Granwald Scott, George Lebese, George Maluleka, Steven Pienaar, Teko Modise, Kagisho Dikgacoi.
Strikers: Kermit Erasmus, Siyabonga Nontshinga, Katlego Mphela and Bradley Grobler. – BuaNews