South Africa depart for the Nations Cup in Ghana on Friday and by the time he boards the plane coach Carlos Alberto Parreira hopes to have a clearer idea what his starting line-up will be in the first match thanks to this week’s two friendlies. Both games have been upgraded from training matches to full internationals.
“To find the right balance is important because with this group you may have so many options,” Parreira says of his squad.
“Players like Elrio [van Heerden] can play in the middle, can play wide, can play up front, play like [Lerato] Chabangu on the left or as a second striker.
“We do have so many players in this situation. And we have to find out in only two games what the right combination is.
_quote “We have a headache but anyhow, it is a good headache. Thankfully we could arrange the second game [against Botswana] because it is an opportunity to try more things during these two trial games and to start the competition in Ghana with the best possible team.”
Apart from Club Brugge midfielder Van Heerden, who is one of the most talented and under-rated members of the squad, Parreira will be running the rule over certain key areas in tomorrow's and Wednesday’s games.
At left-back the tussle between Ajax Cape Town’s Brett Evans and Israel-based Tshepo Masilela appears to be about 50/50.
Defensive midfield appears to be between Lamontville Golden Arrows’ Kagisho Dikgacoi and Swedish-based Lance Davids, who was exceptionally impressive in a 2-0 friendly win over Canada, though in more of a right-sided position.
Lerato Chabangu and Thembinkosi Fanteni appear to be the favourites to partner Sibusiso Zuma up-front, and both have their respective strengths to offer.
At goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez has been the number one, but Moeneeb Josephs just might force his way into the reckoning.
Parreira has not indicated whether he will play an ‘A’ and then a ‘B’ team in the two matches, but is sure to try to give everyone at least one run. The coach would not be pressed on areas where Bafana might be lacking.
“After watching the games we will tell you," he said. "In training you cannot say anything about what we are missing and what we are having. The games are the real judgments [yardstick].
“Also these friendly games are not the competition itself and we cannot expect the best performance. And, in fact, we don’t want the best performance in these games - we want the best performance in the first game when we get to Ghana.”
The coach said he has not decided on the best formation to be utilized yet.
“I will decide in Ghana. Here we will try a formation maybe with four-three and one on the side, which I like. It’s a kind of 4-4-2 but different to what they are doing here [in South Africa].”
Tickets are available at R20 for adults at Computicket.
Kick-off: 16h00. (Coverage begins on SABC1 from 15.30)