Mihlali Mayambela, Elias Mokwana can bolster Bafana claims against Algeria

Mihlali Mayambela needs a big performance for Bafana against Algeria tonight to ensure his continued selection. Photo: BackpagePix

Mihlali Mayambela needs a big performance for Bafana against Algeria tonight to ensure his continued selection. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 26, 2024


Mihlali Mayambela and Elias Mokwana will look to show Bafana coach Hugo Broos that they are the missing pieces in the puzzle as he looks to finalise his complement of strikers for the World Cup qualifiers in June.

The two marksmen will have a hit-out against Algeria tonight (11pm kick-off, SA time ) and will look to stake claims to join Lyle Foster and Lebo Mothiba as the strikers for the World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria away and Zimbabwe at home.

After Mokwana’s debut performance against Andorra last week, the Sekhukhune United right winger is shaping up as the find of the season.

Another excellent performance against vastly improved opposition tonight at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers will secure his place in the squad for the qualifiers.

Apart from scoring Bafana Bafana’s only goal against Andorra, Mokwana was hard to contain with his direct runs at the opposition defence and deservedly won the player-of-the-match award.

Since Bafana flew out to Algeria without a single training session, he was not likely to be at his best in the untried combination. He battled to strike up cohesion with teammates in the front line.

Broos had been keeping an eye on Mokwana since last year, and he was named one of the four Bafana Bafana players on standby for the Africa Cup of Nations.

He has led the Sekhukhune attack this season, and has produced a string of impressive performances.

As a result, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates have taken notice of this exciting attacker. A war for his services is likely to follow.

Mokwana is a versatile forward, and Sekhukhune have used him as a central striker or on the wing. He is a strong dribbler with an eye for goal. His clever footwork bamboozled the Andorran defence.

Pirates are especially interested in him following the departure of their talisman Thembinkosi Lorch, and he looks like a suitable replacement.

Mayambela was an unused substitute against Andorra, but that could be because Broos has already seen enough of him for the time being.

He plays as a midfielder for Cypriot club Aris Limassol, but Broos used him as a left wing at the Afcon in Ivory Coast.

During his limited opportunities, he proved wasteful in front of goal.

He had a gilt-edged chance to put the game beyond the Democratic Republic of Congo in the third-place play-off, but fluffed an easy scoring chance.

He was predominately used as the second-choice striker behind Evidence Makgopa.

For the past eight seasons, he’s played for several lower-tier sides in Europe, and at Limassol, he plays mainly off the bench.

But Broos has seen something in the player, and he’ll likely make the squad for the World Cup qualifiers, provided he does well this evening.

Mayambela is regarded as one of the stronger players in the current squad, and he is likely to be joined by Ronwen Williams, Siyanda Xulu, Teboho Mokoena and Themba Zwane for tonight’s match.

Bafana Bafana will need that experience against an Algerian side which boasts seasoned campaigners like Aissa Mandi, Nabil Bentaleb, Yacine Brahimi, Said Benrahma and Baghdad Bounedjah.

However, the Desert Foxes will be without Ismael Bennacer due to injury, while Ramy Bensebaini is a doubt.

Their star player, Riyad Mahrez, was left out of the squad at his request after a miserable Afcon campaign.

The north Africans come into this game on the back of a come-from-behind 3-2 triumph over Bolivia last week, with goals from Amine Gouiri, Yassine Benzia and Mandi giving new coach Vladimir Petkovic a winning start to his reign.

In head-to-head stats, Algeria and South Africa have met in four matches dating back as far as January 1996. Each team has claimed a win, while two games have been drawn.

Their most recent meeting was in the group stage of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Algeria secured a 3-1 victory in Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea, thanks to an own goal from Thulani Hlatshwayo and strikes by Faouzi Ghoulam and Islam Slimani.