The all-time greatest Bafana XI since readmission

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Sport24's rugby and cricket scribes comprised their best Springbok XV and Proteas XI teams last month. Now we've decided to collate an all-time greatest Bafana Bafana XI

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Sport24's rugby and cricket scribes comprised their best Springbok XV and Proteas XI teams last month. Now we've decided to collate an all-time greatest Bafana Bafana XI.

Bafana have a unique imprint on South African sport and it all started with their historic 1996 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title win on home soil.

The image of then-captain Neil Tovey lifting the trophy alongside former President Nelson Mandela remains iconic to this day.

With everything in limbo, including sport worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tashreeq Vardien thought he would give it a crack at assembling his all-time greatest Bafana XI.

It was not the easiest of squads to select as South Africa boasts quite a talented pool of players since readmission in 1992.

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Here follows a Bafana Bafana team since readmission (1992-2020):

GOALKEEPER

Andre Arendse (67 caps)

South Africa has been gifted with fantastic goalkeepers over the past 25 years with the likes of Hans Vonk, Brian Baloyi, Moeneeb Josephs and Itumeleng Khune. However, the 1.91m Arendse gets the nod to start between the posts. He was an integral part of 1996 AFCON squad and in the 2001/02 PSL season, Arendse would feature again in helping guide Santos to their one and only league title.

DEFENCE

Sizwe Motaung (51 Caps)

Motaung, affectionately known as "SOS" in the football spheres, had a glittering club career having donned the colours of Jomo Cosmos, Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. Sadly, he died at a young age (31) of an AIDS-related disease in August 2001.

Mark Fish (62 caps)

In the 1990s South Africa had arguably the best defensive players on the continent and Fish was one of many great centre-backs who got to represent Bafana Bafana. Fish or "FEEEESH" as the local crowds use to chant his name, gets the selection ahead of other great defenders Nasief Morris, Neil Tovey and Aaron Mokoena.

Lucas Radebe (70 caps)

An easy choice. Radebe was an inspirational leader for the national side and his club, Leeds United, in England. "Rhoo" wears the armband and leads this all-time greatest Bafana XI.

David Nyathi (45 caps)

It would be hard to put any other left-back in this position as Nyathi was such a hard-working defender with the ability to sprint up and down the flank - the reason for his nickname "Going Up" - and had great technical awareness.

MIDFIELD

Doctor Khumalo (50 caps)

A leading attacking force for both Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana in the 1990s, "16 Valve" mesmerised fans and opponents during his playing time. In 1992 he was named South African Footballer of the Year before turning out for clubs abroad in Argentina and the United States. However, he returned less than two years later for a second stint with Amakhosi.

Thabo Mngomeni (37 caps)

Macbeth Sibaya, Reneilwe Letsholonyane or Teko Modise all miss out on selection with "Jah Man" getting to run things in the heart of midfield, just as he did in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Despite not racking up more than 50 caps for the national side, what he offered during his prime was phenomenal.

John Moshoeu (73 caps)

"Shoes" was a class act and also a member of coach Clive Barker's 1996 AFCON heroes. The brilliant attacking midfielder played a few seasons abroad in Turkey with Fenerbahce before returning to don the Amakhosi colours again. He stopped playing at the vintage age of 42 but sadly died of cancer six years later in 2015.

Steven Pienaar (61 caps)

Pienaar was exquisite with a ball at his feet and could easily operate anywhere in the midfield when needed. "Schillo" played all over Europe as he first signed for Ajax Amsterdam in 2001 then moving to Borussia Dortmund before inking a deal with Everton where he attained legendary status.

FORWARDS

Phil Masinga (58 caps)

"Chippa" made history after scoring THAT famous goal which guided Bafana to their first-ever World Cup in 1998.

Benni McCarthy (80 caps)

It simply wouldn't be the greatest Bafana team without McCarthy in it. He remains Bafana's highest goal scorer (31) with his last strike being against Ghana in a 2008 international friendly.

SUBSTITUTES:

Itumeleng Khune (89 caps)

"Spider Kid" has had some memorable games in a Bafana shirt and still more to come (hopefully). He could easily have made the starting XI but gets the nod for a place on the bench.

Nasief Morris (37 caps)

Unlucky to not have reached more caps for the national side but the former Panathinaikos defender was a talented footballer. He could also play in midfield.

Macbeth Sibaya (58 caps)

A workhorse in the middle of the park which mainly went unnoticed in the early 2000s. However, Sibaya had an incredible club career in Europe for top sides in Norway and Russia.

Sibusiso Zuma (67 caps)

Siphiwe Tshabalala and Quinton Fortune were serious contenders for selection, but I've opted for Zuma because of the various positions he could play and how well he adapted when coming off the bench.

Helman Mkhalele (66 caps)

I reckon Mkhalele coming off the bench in the last 20/25 minutes would be a nightmare for any opposition. "Midnight Express", as he was affectionately known, was part of the 1995 Orlando Pirates side that claimed the CAF Champions League and the following year bagged an AFCON winners medal with Bafana.

Siyabonga Nomvethe (81 caps)

A great servant to the beautiful game and, in his prime, Nomvethe was lethal in the penalty area. He knows where the back of the net is. Meanwhile, Percy Tau was a prospect for selection but my gut feeling tells me he will soon break into this squad... I'm sure of it!

Shaun Bartlett (74 caps)

Bartlett was the quintessential striker and is the second-highest Bafana goalscorer for a reason. He had a glittering career with Charlton Athletic in the United Kingdom before returning to South African shores.


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