South Africa call up entire Kaizer Chiefs defence

Siboniso Gaxa

South Africa coach Gordon Igesund has included the entire defence of new league champions Kaizer Chiefs in his squad for two key World Cup qualifiers.

Chiefs back four of full-backs Siboniso Gaxa and Tshepo Masilela and centre-backs Eric Mathoho and Tefo Mashamaite are all in the 25-man group.

Bafana Bafana face Central African Republic in Yaounde on 8 June and and Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on 16 June.

Igesund's side trail Group A leaders Ethiopia by two points.

Ethiopia have seven points, South Africa five, Central African Republic three and Botswana one and only the group winners advance to the final elimination stage.

As well as the Chiefs backline, Igesund has picked the club's goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune, midfielders Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Siphiwe Tshabalala and striker Bernard Parker.

Chiefs clinched a first Premiership title in eight seasons this week after a 1-1 home draw against SuperSport United.

Orlando Pirates, winners of the previous two titles and potential runners-up this season, are the second biggest contributors to the squad with five players selected.

Goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa and midfielders Daine Klate, Oupa Manyisa, Thandani Ntshumayelo and Tlou Segolela are the Buccaneers to get the nod.

There are 20 home-based footballers in the squad plus two each from England and Sweden and one from Belgium.

Injuries ruled out several stars, including Chiefs centre-back Morgan Gould and Pirates full-back Thabo Matlaba, whose wonder goal set up a 2-0 home win over Central African Republic.

"The players selected are highly technical and ready for the challenge - they know what is at stake and I am confident we will pull through," Igesund told reporters in Soweto.

"Having beaten the Central African Republic convincingly in Cape Town, we want to continue with our attacking style.

"We need at least a draw to stay in the race before meeting and, hopefully, beating Ethiopia the following weekend."

Violence in Central African Republic capital Bangui after President Francois Bozize was toppled last March led world football's governing body Fifa to move the fixture to Cameroon.

"Reports I got say the pitch in Yaounde is excellent," Igesund said of the artificial surface at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo.

"However, we understand the national stadium pitch in Addis Ababa may be very bumpy."

South Africa will play a friendly against neighbours Lesotho in Maseru on 1 June before flying to Yaounde.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs, capt), Senzo Meyiwa (Orlando Piates), Wayne Sandilands (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa, Tefo Mashamaite, Tshepo Masilela, Eric Mathoho (all Chiefs), Bevan Fransman (SuperSport Utd), Tebogo Langerman (Sundowns), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk/BEL), Thabo Nthethe (Bloemfontein Celtic)

Midfielders: Daine Klate, Oupa Manyisa, Thandani Ntshumayelo, Tlou Segolela (all Pirates), Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Siphiwe Tshabalala (both Chiefs), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Crystal Palace/ENG), Dean Furman (Doncaster/ENG), Richard Henyekane (Sundowns), May Mahlangu (Helsingborg/SWE), Thuso Phala (Platinum Stars)

Strikers: Katlego Mashego (Moroka Swallows), Bernard Parker (Chiefs), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo/SWE)

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