Bucs Stars Shortlisted for National Duty

Eight Orlando Pirates players could feature in next month’s 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers following the announcement of South Africa and Namibia’s preliminary squads.

Bafana Bafana resume their bid for World Cup qualification with crucial fixtures against Nigeria and Zimbabwe, while the Brave Warriors go head-to-head with Liberia and Tunisia in the next international window which kicks off in early June.

Veteran winger Deon Hotto is among those called up by Namibia coach Collin Benjamin in his 52-man squad. The 33-year-old is retained after his starring role in a historic run in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament hosted by the Ivory Coast earlier in the year.

The Brave Warriors’ host both their Group H fixtures at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, starting with their clash against Liberia on Wednesday 5 June, four days before they take on Tunisia.

Bafana head coach Hugo Broos has meanwhile called up 31 players including seven members of the current Bucs setup, with the squad set to be trimmed to 23 players in the coming weeks.

The shortlist includes uncapped midfielder Relebohile Mofokeng, who has impressed in his first full season of senior football following his promotion to the first team during the latter part of the previous campaign. The teenager cracks the nod alongside Tapelo Xoki and Patrick Maswanganyi, both retained after debuting in an international friendly against Andorra earlier in the year, while Thabiso Monyane has also been afforded a chance to add his solitary cap earned in September last year.

Pirates skipper Innocent Maela is another player in line for his first cap since September. The 31-year-old has featured 15 times for South Africa, last making an appearance alongside Monyane in a 1-0 win over Namibia.

Defender Nkosinathi Sibisi and striker Evidence Makgopa complete the Bucs contingent in the preliminary squad and could feature once more after helping Bafana to a third-place finish in AFCON.

South Africa are currently second in Group C of the qualifiers and will travel to Uyo to take on Nigeria on Saturday, 7 June before hosting Zimbabwe in Bloemfontein four days later.

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