February should have been in goal

February should have been in goal

I was slightly baffled to see Reyaad Pieterse in the Bafana Bafana starting line-up for Saturday’s Cosafa Cup quarterfinal against Lesotho.

This confusion, I must stress, has nothing to do with Pieterse’s goalkeeping abilities – he is an excellent keeper and I feel Kaizer Chiefs were fairly bonkers to let him leave.

No, the reason that even as I write this my eyebrows are furrowing a little, is that Pieterse was picked ahead of Jody February, the man whose heroics in Senegal helped South Africa to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics. February was a real star as Owen Da Gama’s side pipped the hosts to the last African spot in Brazil, and I assumed, at that point, that the young Ajax Cape Town keeper would be a shoo-in for the Olympics.

SA’s squad for the Cosafa Cup was picked with the Olympics in mind, to give the side extra preparation ahead of the opening match against Brazil in Brasilia on August 4. Pieterse was brought into the squad as the only player over-23, not out of context with Olympic ideals, with three overage players allowed in the squad in Brazil.

And I understand if South Africa’s management team feel that the goalkeeping department needs strengthening for the Olympics. But what kind of message does it send to February if Pieterse shoots straight into the starting line-up of an “Olympic” side? Pieterse played very well against Lesotho, but my personal feeling is that South Africa should have stuck with February in this competitive tournament, until he does something that leaves him rightfully omitted from the team.

Perhaps Bafana are going to rotate goal-minders in the Cosafa Cup (as I write this they have not yet played their semifinal against Swaziland), it is certainly something Shakes Mashaba has done in the past – see the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals. But even so, I would have given February first bite at the cherry. If Pieterse plays all South Africa’s Cosafa Cup games, then I can only assume he is the man that South Africa intend to have between the poles in Brazil. And this, to my mind, would be a rebuttal of Da Gama’s statement that he wants to keep faith with those who served him so well in Senegal.

Whoever is in goal for Bafana against Swaziland, meanwhile, will have to deal with Felix Badenhorst, whose five goals at the tournament have illustrated exactly why he is reportedly a target for Kaizer Chiefs.

We have the latest over the page on Shakes Mashaba’s reaction to the win over Lesotho.

We also have the latest on Friday’s World Cup draw on Page 5, with some confusion and complaining over the seedings.

Steven Pienaar will not be going to the Olympics, but we did catch up with him this weekend in Westbury to talk about whether he might be playing in South Africa again next season.

Elsewhere in this week’s Phakaaathi, we speak to Mamelodi Sundowns’ Siyanda Zwane, who impressed along with his whole side in their amazing 2-0 Champions League win in Setif on Saturday evening.

And we profile the two sides who have made it into the National First Division next season. Magesi FC have a familiar face as coach in the form of former PSL top scorer Jackie Ledwaba. And Kings Utd have a couple of twins with big ambitions.

Congratulations to both sides – next stop, the Absa Premiership?

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