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Mashaba names starting 11 for Mauritania

Itumeleng Khune will captain Bafana Bafana while Siyabonga Zulu will make his national team debut.

Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Itumeleng Khune will captain Bafana Bafana while Siyabonga Zulu will make his national team debut in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Mauritania. The Group M clash will be played at the Olympic Stadium in Nouakchott.

Playing in his 71st international, Khune, who is the most capped South African goalkeeper, will marshal Bafana Bafana's rearguard with Anele Ngcongca, Eric Mathoho, Rivaldo Coetzee and Zulu of Platinum Stars.

"It is always an honour to represent my country in any match we play, more so in such a crucial clash that we know we have to win so as remain within touching distance with Cameroon who are currently leading our group. We had a very good week of preparations and we are confident that it will show on the field. We are facing a very difficult side in their backyard but the group we have gives me the courage to say we can return home with good results," said Khune.

"The pitch looks perfect and will surely be catalyst in our brand of football that we play. Despite the high temperatures we are more than ready to face Mauritania."

The midfield has a familiar look about it with Dean Furman playing alongside Andile Jali while Mandla Masango and Thulani Serero will operating from the wings.

The strike force role has been handed to Thamsanqa Gabuza and Tokelo Rantie.

Only six players started in the goalless draw against Gambia in the first match of the qualifiers in June in Durban - Khune, Ngcongca, Coetzee, Jali, Serero and Gabuza.

Back then, Thabo Matlaba, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Oupa Manyisa, May Mahlangu and Ayanda Patosi completed the starting eleven.

Only Patosi is in the current squad but will start on the bench together with goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane, defenders Mzikayise Mashaba and Clayton Daniels as well as midfielders Mpho Makola (who could make his debut should he get a run), Bongani Zungu and forward Sibusiso Vilakazi.

Six players have not been considered for the match - Ronwen Williams, Siyabonga Nhlapho, Phumlani Ntshangase, Jabulani Shongwe, Themba Zwane and Daylon Claasen.

"I believe we have done all we had to do to prepare for this match. What is left is now for the players to go and apply themselves. We have been drumming into them that this is a must-win match because any other result will only set us back a long way and we don't want to be playing catch-up in the qualifiers. I am positive that with the chosen 11 we will get the required outcome. All the players lifted their hands to make the squad but since we are guided by rules we could only go for those we have chosen," said Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba.

"The good thing though is that we have another match on Tuesday, so those who are not facing Mauritania could get a run against Senegal in the Nelson Mandela Challenge at Orlando Stadium.

A win in Nouackchott will see Mashaba set a new record of 23 wins for Bafana Bafana - his current wins of 22 are a joint record with former senior national team coach Clive Barker.

SA starting 11: Itumeleng Khune (C), Anele Ngcongca, Rivaldo Coetzee, Eric Mathoho, Siyabonga Zulu, Andile Jali, Dean Furman, Thulani Serero, Mandla Masango, Thamsanqa Gabuza and Tokelo Rantie.

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