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CHAN: Time for local players to shine

Coach Gordon Igesund is hoping his locally-based players will do SA proud at the tournament.

Gordon Igesund hopes his locally based players will do the country proud in the African Nations Championship. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The African Nations Championship (CHAN) represents another chance for Bafana Bafana to show just how much progress they have made under Coach Gordon Igesund.

He took over the role in December 2012.

During his time as coach, South Africa has only lost four times in 20 games in all competition and friendly matches.

CHAN is seen as more of a developmental tournament with only locally-based players allowed to represent the participating nations.

Fortunately for Igesund, key players in his teams are often locally-based.

Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Bernard Parker and Captain Itumeleng Khune will be allowed to take part.

The absence of overseas-based players also gives Premier Soccer League (PSL) players another chance to impress Igesund in key positions.

Bloemfontein Celtic Captain Thabo Nthethe is one of those players who have been doing well since being drawn into the national picture last year.

Another interesting call up was that of Moeneeb Josephs, who actually retired from the international game in 2012 under former coach Pitso Mosimane.

However, a meeting with Igesund lead to the keeper changing his mind.

Mamelodi Sundowns defensive midfielder Hlompho Kekana is also another player to watch.

He is known as an 'enforcer' and this physical quality will be needed when Bafana come up against physical West African group rivals Nigeria and Mali.

Lerato Chanbangu and Katlego Mashego are among the top scorers in the PSL at the moment.

Goal scoring is an area of concern for South African football.

Bafana's opening game is against Mozambique who will field a virtually unknown team with most players coming from their local league.

The game most fans will be looking forward to will be Bafana's last group game against Nigeria on 19 January.

Despite the Super Eagles missing European-based stars including John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike, they will have a host of young talent on display.

Goalkeeper Dele Alampasu was part of the winning U17 World Cup squad, while midfielders Christian Pyagbara and Abdullahi Shehu played in the African Youth Championship and the Fifa U20 World Cup, which was held in Turkey in 2013.

Then there's also the match against Mali, the team that knocked Bafana out of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) last year.

That match is on 15 January.