Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba has announced a squad of 25 players to face Burkina Faso and Ghana in back to back matches.
South Africa takes on The Stallions (Les Etalons) in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Qualifiers on Saturday, 8 October 2016 at Stade Du 4 Aout in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Kickoff is at 18h00 local time (20h00 SA time).
Mashaba has made several changes to the squad that played against Mauritania and Egypt earlier this month (2 September and 6 September respectively).
Erick Mathoho returns to the fold after missing out on the two matches as he was still recovering from the injury he sustained at the Rio Olympics Games.
Also making his comeback is fellow defender Rivaldo Coetzee who was withdrawn from the two previsous matches becuause of illness.
Oupa Manyisa, Thulani Serero, Eleazor Rodgers, Brighton Mhlongo, May Mahlangu and Ayanda Patosi have also been recalled.
Mashaba says a positive start is crucial in the opening match.
“It is imperative that we have a flying start against Burkina Faso, we all saw what happened with the 2017 AFCON qualifiers that the first match is always the most important one as it sets the tone for the rest of the qualifiers. Anything other than a win in Burkina Faso will have us playing catch up and it is never an easy task for any country,” said Mashaba.
“We must also ensure that we win our home games as anything less will not be enough to get us to Russia. We know we are carrying the hopes of the entire nation as we embark on these qualifiers, which go hand in hand with pressure, but then again it is part of the territory. But we are feeling very positive about the mission ahead. We have tweaked the team a bit to give it some freshness and we are confident we will do well.”
Three days after facing Les Etalons, Bafana Bafana will face the Black Stars of Ghana (Tuesday, 11 October) in an international friendly match that will be played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Kickoff is at 19h00 and tickets are already on sale at R80 all round. They can be purchased at Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers.
Bafana Bafana go into camp on Sunday, 2 October 2016.
They will have a training session the next day (Monday, 3 October) in Johannesburg and depart for Burkina Faso on Tuesday, 4 October.
The squad is expected to return to South Africa on Monday, 10 October.