Itumeleng Khune remains the most popular player for the Carling Black Label Champion Cup.
The Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper has been a regular at the top of the voting stakes during the tournament’s five-year existence, and again he tops the standings with 106 147 votes.
The closest player to him is Orlando Pirates striker Tendai Ndoro, who is more than 26 000 votes behind on 79 340, followed by Brighton Mhlongo on 72 784.
The only change to the sides from a month ago is the inclusion of Kgotso Moleko, who replaces Siboniso Gaxa – one of the 20 players put up for sale by the club recently.
Interestingly, Lehlohonolo Majoro has accumilated almost 50 000 votes, despite hardly getting a look-in this past season and seemingly being on his way to Bloemfontein Celtic.
TEAMS AS THEY STAND
Kazier Chiefs: Khune, Moleko, Mathoho, Gordinho, Masilela, Twala, Katsande, Ekstein, Tshabalala, Lebese, Parker
Orlando Pirates: Mhlongo, Jele, Gyimah, Gcaba, Matlaba, Makola, Manyisa, Qalinge, Rakhale, Majoro, Ndoro
Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is expected to be in goal when the SA Under-23 side tackles host nation Brazil in the opening match of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Insiders told Times Media Digital that Khune is one of three overage players who will be part of SA under-23 coach Owen da Gama’s squad and barring injury‚ the Chiefs goalkeeper should face the likes of Neymar at the Estádio Nacional in Brasília on August 4.
The other overage players bound for the global showpiece in South America are Chiefs centre-back Mulomowandau Mathoho and Belgium-based midfielder Andile Jali.
“It’s a done deal‚ those are the three players who are going to Brazil‚” the insider said.
The insider said the above three players are expected to add a bit of steel and complement Da Gama’s young charges in a tough Olympic group that also includes Denmark and Iraq.
Supersport United goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse had appeared to sneak in via the back door after his heroics in Namibia over the last few days contributed to Bafana’s march to the final of the regional Cosafa Cup.
But his heroics will have come a little too late to sway the minds of the selectors at this late hour.
But should Pieterse carry his impressive form to the Cosafa Cup final against Botswana at Sam Nujoma Stadium on Saturday evening‚ he may well stake a strong claim for a place in the Bafana squad that will play in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in October.
An injury-free Khune has been one of the first names on Bafana coach Ephraim ‘‘Shakes” Mashaba’s squads and the seasoned goalkeeper will now be required to provide his experience at Junior Bafana level.
The plan is for the three overage players to be part of the SA Under-23 squad for their away friendly to Japan on June 29.
“We’ll know by Thursday if all three can come to Japan with us‚ because Jali’s Belgian club [KV Oostende] were taking a bit long to respond to us‚” Da Gama said.
The Cosafa Cup‚ where the U-23s’ defence has been brittle‚ has reinforced Da Gama’s view that the overage players for the Olympics need to reinforce SA’s spine.
“I’ve always said that the spine needs reinforcing. The rest of the boys can play. But just to get a better spine and good leadership in that area can really help us‚” Da Gama said.
Da Gama said there will be “six or seven changes” to the Cosafa squad for the Japan game.
Injuries and withdrawals mean SA have been left with 19 players in Namibia‚ 16 of them outfield players. They will need to bolster that number.
Apart from Khune‚ Mathoho and Jali being added‚ Da Gama said Highlands Park forward Mothobi Mvalo is being brought in. Phumlani Ntshangase will also return to the team if he has recovered from the gastric ulcers that saw him sent back from Cosafa to SA on Monday.
“There will be six to seven changes. We’re just waiting to see once Ntshangase gets his scope [gastroscopy]‚ whether we will get a green light — that’s a bit touch and go‚” Da Gama said.
“The visa applications had to be in by Tuesday‚ so we’re putting some extra names there and have explained they’re part of the squad. And we’ve got to take from the overall list of 35 players earmarked for the U-23s.