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Bafana's 2018 World Cup campaign begins

Coach Shakes Mashaba will face Angola with his strongest squad yet.

Bafana Bafana coach, Shakes Mashaba. Picture: Official PSL Facebook page.

JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana will begin their campaign to qualify for their first World Cup since Korea and Japan when they take on Angola in the first of two legs at the Ombaka National Stadium in Benguela, Angola this afternoon.

Coach Shakes Mashaba has gone with his strongest squad yet, including some of his tried and tested campaigners, who've featured in most of his official games since he took over last year.

In the absence of Itumeleng Khune, who is nursing a knee injury, Mpumalanga Black Aces' Jackson Mabokgwane will wear the captain's armband, while Bafana's Afcon 2015 skipper Dean Furman will start on the bench.

South Africa and Angola face off in the second round of qualifying, looking to progress to the group stages, where 20 teams will battle it over six rounds of matches to book the last five spots allocated to Africa at the world cup.

The two nations have met three times this year, in a friendly game in June, which Mashaba's men won 2-1 and then earlier in November in a CHAN 2016 qualifier, which Angola won over two legs.

That loss in the CHAN qualifiers was Bafana's first and only in 12 meetings with their Southern African counterparts.

STARTING 11:

Goalkeeper: Jackson Mabokgwane (c),

Defenders: Anele Ngcongca, Thabo Matlaba, Rivaldo Coetzee, Eric Mathoho,

Midfielders: Mandla Masango, Bongani Zungu, Andile Jali, Thulani Serero,

Strikers: Thamsanqa Gabuza, Tokelo Rantie