Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Dillon Sheppard says it’s concerning that their team only has a single player in the 35-man Bafana Bafana preliminary squad for the two crucial Africa Cup of Nations back-to-back qualifiers later this month.
Bafana Bafana will need two wins against Liberia in two successive matches in order to qualify for the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast. Keeper Brandon Peterson is the only Chiefs player in the squad.
As expected, run away DSTV log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns players are dominating the squad. Sundowns have ten players in the preliminary squad for the two AFCON qualifiers. The second club with most number of players is Pirates with four players.
The only player from Kaizer Chiefs is 28-year-old Peterson. Peterson will be competing against Bafana Bafana number one Ronwen Williams and his deputy Veli Mothwa. The fourth keeper in the preliminary squad is Ricardo Goss of SuperSport United.
“It’s up to the coach to select the players he feels are going to do the nation proud. We are here to support him of course as a coach, we would love to see our players in the national team, but the coach has to make his selection and we’ve got to support that selection and of course we have to work hard to improve our players. Our players can be up there for selection but like I said it’s important for us as a nation. We are together, we will support the coach and whatever decision he makes but yes, we will work harder to make sure that he does select more of our players,” says Sheppard.
Orlando Pirates are the second highest team with four players in the preliminary squad.
Nedbank Cup matches
Chiefs and Pirates will face teams from the National First Division in the last 16-of the Nedbank Cup. Pirates will host Venda Football Academy on Saturday evening and Chiefs will be at home to the high flying Casric Stars the following day.
“We have an experience recently, we know the meaning of being in the MTN 8 final, be the better team also in Durban at that time so we want to replicate the same, we want to have the same experience together, be again in the final but that’s something that will come if we do our job. We have dreams but the reality is that we are still far from that possibility, but we want to fight to have the chance to be in the final. But at the same time as I always say the league for me is always the most important,” says Jose Riveiro, Orlando Pirates coach.
Richards Bay United Mtolo’s passing
Meanwhile, condolences are continuing to pour in following the passing of Richards Bay United midfielder Siphamandla Mtolo. According to the club, Mtolo collapsed during training on Tuesday morning and passed away.
“I want to send condolences to Mtolo’s family and the Richards Bay family. You know it’s a heavy loss. It’s a really heavy loss and like I said I just want to send my condolences. You know we have lost a soldier I mean he played a huge part in the team coming up from the NFD as a captain,” Sheppard added.
“Let me take the chance also representing the whole family of Orlando Piratres to send the condolences our colleagues in Richards Bay about the sad news that we all knew yesterday from here I would like to send them our support and love in this difficult moment,” Riveiro added.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) have both conveyed their message of support to the club and to the family. A moment of silence will be observed in Mtolo’s honour at this week’s Nedbank Cup and the DSTV Diski Challenge matches.