Ayanda Gcaba
Ayanda Gcaba

Orlando Pirates defender Ayanda Gcaba believes his experience in the CAF Champions League played a part in his call-up to the South African national side.
Gcaba will replace fellow teammate Patrick Phungwayo in the Bafana Bafana 23-man squad which will fly out to Equatorial Guinea for the 2015 African Cup of Nations later this week.
The Port Shepstone-born defender believes his part the Sea Robbers’ run to the 2013 CAF Champions League final is to thank for Shakes Mashaba giving him the thumps up.
Gcaba told his club’s official website: “I’m sure it had to do with it (CAF Champions League). We had a good run in that tournament, and against all odds we made it to the final under hostile conditions all the way through.
“You have to be tough, both physically and mentally, to do well in any African competition and I think that having Oupa (Manyisa), Andile (Jali) and Thabo (Matlaba) in the national setup will do us all a great service.”
The 28-year-old added that he hopes to do well for Phungwayo, who had to fly home after failing to recover from a knee injury.
Gcaba, who has predominantly featured as a centre-back, will add cover not only at the heart of defence but on the left side, having featured there on occasion.
The former Free State Stars defender made his debut for South Africa at left-back in a goalless draw with Equatorial Guinea in January 2012.
“My heart goes out to Pat [Patrick Phungwayo]. It’s an unfortunate thing that has happened to him. Every player wants to represent the country at the highest level and he was right there. I want to do it for him and his family too because I know how much the national team means to him,” Gcaba added.
“I don’t know what the coach has planned for me, but I know that I’m ready to help the team in any way. I’m equally comfortable on the left or in the centre of defence, so we will see what happens. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to do my best for the nation, whether on the pitch, the bench or in training. We have a job to do and everyone needs to play their part.”
Gcaba is expected to team-up with his Bafana Bafana teammates in Libreville, Gabon, on Tuesday where South Africa will tackle Mali in an international friendly, before jetting off to Mongomo where they will kick-off their campaign against Algeria on 19 January.