JOHANNESBURG – Kgaogelo Chauke. That’s one of the names that should be at the top of coach Molefi Ntseki’s selection list as Bafana Bafana prepare to return to competitive football early next month, following a year-long hiatus.
South Africa will clash with Southern African neighbours Namibia and Zambia in back-to-back international friendlies on October 8 and October 11 away at the Independence Stadium in Windhoek and home at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg respectively.
But with players from the domestic league all expected to be available, considering that it’s pre-season after the season concluded on September 12 and the new term expected to commence after the international break, Ntseki should have a fully-fledged team.
However, it’s not what the Bafana coach has at his disposal that should make him excited. Instead, he should cast his net as wide as England, where, arguably, the hottest youngest exported property is plying his trade.
Chauke is on the books of English Premier League side Southampton FC after being promoted early this year, having signed a two and a half year deal.
His exploits in the development ranks since his arrival in 2017 are well documented that his senior league debut appears to be imminent.
The 17-year-old midfielder has been a breath of fresh air for the Under 18 and Under 23 sides. And his attempts to knock on coach Ralph Hasenhüttl’s door have been profound – he scored during the Under 18’s 2-1 win over Arsenal a week ago.
However, the Southampton footballer started on the bench when the Saints were hammered 4-1 by
Chelsea in the second tier of the Premier League on Friday.
Given that Chauke is still eligible to represent England, Ntseki should make the first move to entice the youngster to feel secure in representing his country of birth.
The Bafana coach has his hands full, considering that he has to deliver “vision 2022”, where the Bafana set-up has to be composed of a generation that will ensure that the team qualifies for continental and international competitions regularly.
And so, what better time for Ntseki to put his plan into motion than as early as next month? After all, it’s often said that the future of a winning bunch often lies in the youth. That is why Ntseki has to consider youngsters upon the return of the 2022 congested calendar year.
South Africa resume their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers with a back-to-back clash against Sao Tome and Principe on November 13 at the FNB Stadium, before travelling to the island for the return game on November 16.
Bafana are second in Group C with three points, following their 2-0 loss to leaders Ghana in the first game and 1-0 home victory over Sudan – their last competitive opponents, at the Orlando Stadium in November last year.
So, get maximum points against the lowly ranked team in the group in November, then the South Africans will most likely be on their way to the postponed continental showpiece in Cameroon come 2022.
However, 2022 will also mark the commencement of the Qatar Fifa World Cup. And with Bafana having last qualified for the global showpiece as hosts in 2010, they’ll need to ensure that they book their ticket to the Middle East showpiece, especially with Safa’s vision expected to be in motion.