Da Gama lauds Bafana camaraderie

Premiership

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Da Gama, who has been deployed as Shakes Mashaba's replacement for the time being, called up as many as six uncapped players ahead of back-to-back international friendlies against Guinea-Bissau and Angola.

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The national Under-23 mentor has used the opportunity to cast the selection net far and wide, also handing recalls to Lebogang Manyama, Kermit Erasmus and Kamohelo Mokotjo, although the latter's eligibility remains in doubt after renouncing his South African citizenship last year.

Captain Itumeleng Khune and vice-captains Hlompho Kekana, Thulani Hlatshwayo and Dean Furman are among those tasked with ensuring the new faces are made to feel welcome in the camp, and Da Gama is delighted at the coming together of his troops thus far.

"We as the technical team are totally delighted with their [new players] contribution and adaptation," said 'ODG'. "They've fitted in so well and I think that's testimony to the senior players in the team.

"They [seniors] have welcomed them, they've not isolated them and they've welcomed and encouraged them, which is truly testimony to the leadership within the team.

"You can't see a difference between the younger players and the older players – it's like one team – and everyone is being treated equally."

With the likes of Lorenzo Gordinho, Percy Tau and Luther Singh having shown great ability and form at various levels, Da Gama says he won't deny the younger contingent an opportunity to play in the two friendlies, but feels it's important not to throw them into the deep end.

"We've got to understand that we've got to ease them in, we can't just throw them into the deep end. It's a matter of taking the pressure off them and making sure they just ease into the whole setup. But that does not mean they won't play. There's a strong possibility that they'll play," he added.

Bafana will have two more training sessions – one at People's Park this afternoon and their last at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Friday afternoon – as they gear up towards Saturday's clash against the Wild Dogs. Kick-off has been scheduled for 15h00.

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