Owen da Gama says Siphiwe Tshabalala has earned Bafana recall for World Cup qualifiers with Senegal
Posted: 9 November 2017 Time: 19:45
Former Bafana Bafana assistant and caretaker coach Owen da Gama has given credit to Siphiwe Tshabalala for fighting his way back into the national team fold after a near four-year absence.
SAFA's 'Vision 2022' and past Bafana failures led to a number of experienced players like the 33-year-old falling out of favour in the international arena.
However, new Bafana coach Stuart Baxter sprang a surprise when he called up the in-form Kaizer Chiefs midfielder for the must-win back-to-back World Cup qualifiers with Senegal.
Baxter also previously caused a stir by selecting veteran SuperSport United centre-backs Morgan Gould and Clayton Daniels.
Da Gama believes 'Shabba' deserved the recall.
"I think he's [Tshabalala] been doing well," Da Gama tells KickOff.com.
"He justifies why he is in the team. If somebody does well now it doesn't matter why he was not selected in the past, the past is in the past. We must give him credit for doing well now."
Da Gama was part of the Bafana technical team that oversaw the 2-1 win over Senegal in Polokwane last year. FIFA ordered the Group D match to be replayed this week after referee Joseph Lamptey was found guilty of match-fixing.
"There was a lot of continuity in the team," says Da Gama of the victory over Sadio Mane and company.
"We played boys that have been very doing very well. So it was just about continuity."
Da Gama backs Baxter's men to beat the Teranga Lions tomorrow at Peter Mokaba Stadium. Bafana will also have to win the return match in Dakar on Tuesday to qualify for the World Cup.
"I think we do stand a chance and I think we can beat Senegal... we have beaten them before. Whether people can say controversially or not, we have beaten them before. I think we do stand a chance and the team is on a high after the good win against Burkina Faso. So yes, I believe we can do very well," concluded the Highlands Park mentor.