Jali makes a return to Bafana!

 South Africa face Nigeria, Africa Cup of Nations champions, in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in Durban next Wednesday.

Kickoff is at 8.15pm.

In the Igesund era, Jali has been conspicuous by his absence from the Bafana squad – a puzzling omission that has even sparked rumours of a rift between player and national team coach.

“I was always asked why I left Jali out but he wasn’t playing well enough to be in the national team,” Igesund said.

Jali has eventually won the coach over with his splendid performance in the Carling Black Label Cup game against Kaizer Chiefs last month and his dominant performance in Pirates’ 3-0 win over Al Ahly last weekend sealed his comeback.

“I thought he was outstanding against Chiefs and Al Ahly. He controlled the midfield and what excited me most was his attitude.

“It was almost as if he was sending a message saying, ‘Coach, I want to play for Bafana, I’m going to keep working hard and I know you’re going to be watching’ and so he deserves to be called up.”

Meanwhile, Free State Stars’ Luyolo Nomandela, who was in the Bafana squad for the Cosafa Cup before getting injured, and 20-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns winger Bongani Zungu, have received their first call-ups.

Igesund has also rewarded Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Tshepo Gumede, Hlompho Kekana and Lebogang Manyama, who didn’t disappoint the national team on the Cosafa Cup mission in Zambia last month.

The six Pirates players in the 28-man squad – as well as the three overseas-based players – will be released back to their clubs after Wednesday night’s game and will not be available for the clash against Burkina Faso at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Igesund, meanwhile, lauded Pirates for their tenacious win over Al Ahly, hailing their performance as the blitz needed to resuscitate Bafana’s fire in Africa.

But why it took him so long to realise that when Pirates do well in Africa, Bafana do well, remains a mystery.

Bafana squad:

Itumeleng Khune, Senzo Meyiwa, Wayne Sandilands, Eric Mathoho, Thabo Nthethe, Tshepo Gumede, Bevan Fransman, Anele Ngcongca, Tsepo Masilela, Thabo Matlaba, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Innocent Mdledle; Hlompho Kekana, Dean Furman, Oupa Manyisa, Andile Jali, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Thandani Ntshumayelo, Bongani Zungu, Thuso Phala, Daine Klate, Lerato Chabangu; Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie, Lebogang Manyana, Luyolo Nomandela.


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