Monare not surprised with his call-up for Afcon

Orlando Pirates midfielder Thabang Monare says he was not surprised to make the final cut of the 23-man Bafana Bafana squad for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

Monare, 34, was the surprise inclusion in coach Hugo Broos’ Afcon squad, despite making the preliminary squad of 50. His last call-up to the national team was in March 2022, when South Africa played two international friendlies in Europe. In the first match, SA drew 0-0 with Guinea in Belgium and lost 5-0 to France in the second game.

Speaking during a media briefing at the Southern Sun hotel in Kempton Park on Tuesday, Monare said he is ready to offer his expertise and represent his country in Ivory Coast.

“No, I wasn’t surprised [to be named in the final 23-man squad] because I was mentioned in the preliminary squad,” Monare said.

“I was obviously looking forward to standing up for my country so me being called up did not come as a surprise.

“I was ready and willing to be here standing firm to represent my country.”

Unique qualities according to Broos

Broos also explained his reason behind selecting the Pirates man to his final team, saying his experience and unique qualities were key to giving him the nod for the Afcon.

“You know where we are going, we are not going to a friendly game. We are going to a big tournament,” Broos said.

“I would have chosen all the young players and before you know it you are already out because those guys don’t have experience.

“So, you need to have a good mix of young and experienced players and that’s why I chose Thabang. He used to be in my setup before, but he suddenly stopped playing at Pirates after the France friendly and I don’t know why.

“But as you have seen [recently], he has been playing regularly and I think when we have a problem, with the qualities he has, he is the right man for the job. He has experience, a good player and that is the reason why Thabang is with us.”

Silencing critics

Despite his long pro career, the former Jomo Cosmos and Bidvest Wits midfield strongman has managed just three caps. The man from Secunda in Mpumalanga will look forward to not only adding to his caps tally but also to silence criticism about his selection over his age during Afcon. 

Bafana are scheduled to travel to the Ivory Coast on Thursday. Their opening Group E clash against Mali is next week Tuesday at 10pm.

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