The squad in full is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Shu-Aib Walters (Maritzburg United)
Defenders: Matthew Booth, Siboniso Gaxa (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa), Aaron Mokoena (Portsmouth), Anele Ngcongoa (Racing Genk), Siyabonga Sangweni (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Fulham), Thanduyise Khuboni (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Surprise Moriri (Mamelodi Sundowns), Steven Pienaar (Everton), MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)
Forwards: Katlego Mphela (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvete (Moroka Swallows), Bernard Parker (FC Twente)
Itumeleng Khune was the obvious choice to start against Mexico in goal; however, that may not now be the case. The South African stopper was involved in a sickening collision during a warm-up match with Colombia, although scans later proved that he only suffered a bruised hip. In his place, Moeneeb Josephs was given the chance to shine – a chance he grabbed with both hands. Josephs left pundits running out of superlatives following a string of fine saves against Guatemala, including a penalty save, although it is unclear as to whether he has done enough to snatch Khune’s place. Shu-Aib Walters is the third choice ‘keeper in the squad, although it is unlikely that he will play any part.
Aaron Mokoena will be Parreira’s defensive lynchpin, with the captain’s tough-tackling and no-nonsense attitude likely to increase his already sound rapport with the South African fans. Maccabi Haifa’s Tsepo Masilela is likely to start alongside Mokoena, as well as Siboniso Gaxa and Lucas Thwala – with Parreira hoping that his defence can withold the attacking flair of Mexico, Uruguay and France. Also named in the squad were the influential Matthew Booth, Bongani Khumalo, Anele Ncongoa and Siyabonga Sangweni. Khumalo is seen as the main threat to Masilela’s position, having played in the most recent friendly against Denmark.
In midfield, South Africa provide three starlets who are capable of single-handedly winning matches – Steven Pienaar, Teko Modise, and Kagisho Dikcagoi. Pienaar, valued at £15 million, is renowned for his sense of attacking flair and trickery, seen by many in the Premier League. Modise is a creative midfielder who likes to pull the strings, often spraying wide cross-field passes to the likes of Pienaar. Fulham’s Dikcagoi dominates the middle sector of the pitch, breaking up attacks before setting up attacking opportunities swiftly. Likely to join these in the starting XI is Siphiwe Tshabala, although this spot could easily be handed to any one of Sibaya, Moriri, Khuboni, Davids, or Letsholonylane.
Up front, that attacking threat is evident. Katlego Mphela is a world-class finisher with devastating pace and accuracy, as seen in the 2009 Confederations Cup. However, if sides can contain his threat, South Africa’s chances are likely to be limited. Also in the squad is FC Twente’s Bernard Parker, a veteran picked ahead of Benni McCarthy. Whilst his movement can lack fluency, he has an incredible goal-poaching ability and could prove to be a key squad member. Siyabonga Nomvete completes the attacking part of the squad, although with Parreira seemingly favouring a 4-5-1 formation, his chances are likely to be limited.
So there you have it – South Africa’s final twenty-three. It may not be world-class, but one thing is for certain – it contains passion, bravery, and persistence.