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Bafana can benefit from Foster and Tau and it could boost them too

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Hugo Broos had the luxury of naming two of arguably South Africa’s best players abroad in striker Foster (Burnley FC) and defender Ngezana, who plays for FCSB, a Romanian Liga 1 club.

Burnley’s South African striker Lyle Foster (left) celebrates with defender Lorenz Assignon after scoring. Picture: Darren Staples, AFP

Herman Gibbs

The availability of Europe-based players like Lyle Foster and Siyabonga Ngezana has significantly increased coach Hugo Broos’ Bafana Bafana selection options.

The Belgium tactician named a 36-man preliminary squad on Wednesday for next month’s 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria (away) and Zimbabwe (home).

He had the luxury of naming two of arguably South Africa’s best players abroad in striker Foster (Burnley FC) and defender Ngezana, who plays for FCSB, a Romanian Liga 1 club.

Much to Broos’ disappointment previously, Foster was receiving treatment for a medical condition and Ngezana had visa issues, and as a result, the two players couldn’t be called up for the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.

The big plus about these players is that their domestic leagues will be done by Sunday, and then they can enjoy a break until Bafana Bafana’s camps ahead of the away June 7 clash against Nigeria in Uyo.

This is unlike with Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates players, who will be playing the Nedbank Cup final on June 1.

A day later, these players, who will make up the bulk of the eventual 23-man national squad, will be reporting to the Bafana camp to prepare for a match five days later – on Friday, June 7 – in Nigeria.

To add to the problem, training time will be at a premium because the squad is likely to fly out to Lagos on the Wednesday. They will be required to undertake another two-hour flight to Uyo, which is 600km from Lagos.

This will also give the team a chance to have a run at the match venue, the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, on the Thursday, 24 hours ahead of match day.

Foster’s inclusion has triggered debate on social media because many feel he should have played for Bafana Bafana despite his mental health issues.

Many fans have not forgiven him because they feel he snubbed the national team.

Broos has also been able to recall Percy Tau, who he rested for the Fifa Series international friendlies against Algeria and Andorra in March.

Tau was off-colour at the Afcon, and Broos felt he needed a break.

Tau will have every chance of impressing Broos because he’ll be playing for Al Ahly against Esperance in the CAF Champions League final over the next two weekends, starting on Saturday in Tunis.

Now that Broos has named his preliminary squad, he will soon hear who is available or not.

The two forthcoming matches are World Cup qualifiers and for some players, these are more attractive than playing Afcon qualifiers.

The two World Cup qualifiers could prove useful for players like Foster, Ngezana and Tau. Foster’s club Burnley have just been relegated from the Premier League, and if he plays well, he could get a look-in at clubs in England’s elite level, where he is highly rated.

Ngezana has already attracted interest from a French club, but if he impresses for Bafana Bafana, there may be a flurry of offers from elsewhere in Europe.

Tau seems to be on his way out of Al Ahly, although he remains one of their key players in their quest for African glory.

The two qualifiers may provide would-be suitors a chance to see Tau play at the highest level.

The next few days will also give Broos a chance to reconsider his options, one of which is the selection claims of Tshegofatso Mabasa, the Orlando Pirates forward who has struck a rich vein of form and is making a name for himself as a match winner.

Mabasa leads the Premiership scoring charts with 15 goals, one ahead of Stellenbosch FC’s Iqraam Rayners, who was included in Bafana’s squad.

Bafana Preliminary Squad

Goalkeepers: Ronwen Williams, Bruce Bvuma, Ricardo Goss, Veli Mothwa

Defenders: Sydney Mobbie, Innocent Maela, Given Msimango, Khuliso Mudau, Siyabonga Ngezana, Thabiso Monyane, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Mothobi Mvala, Terrence Mashego, Grant Kekana, Thapelo Morena, Aubrey Modiba, Tapelo Xoki, Thabo Maloisane

Midfielders: Teboho Mokoena, Bathusi Aubaas, Grant Margeman, Sphephelo Sithole, Jayden Adams

Forwards: Themba Zwane, Patrick Maswanganyi, Tshepang Moremi, Evidence Makgopa, Mihlali Mayambela, Devin Titus, Mlondi Mbanjwa, Elias Mokwana, Percy Tau, Oswin Appollis, Iqraam Rayners, Lyle Foster, Relebohile Mofokeng

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