Percy Tau's injury-enforced exclusion from the Bafana Bafana squad has opened the door for Orlando Pirates forward Zakhele Lepasa to stake a claim with the national team.
Having struggled for game time at Orlando Pirates over the course of the last three seasons, Zakhele Lepasa has finally emerged as a first team regular time around and scored his first league goal in nearly two years during last weekend's 2-0 win over TS Galaxy.
Lepasa's contributions to the Buccaneers' attack in recent weeks have not gone unnoticed by national team selectors and Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos on Thursday named him in his 23-man squad to face Botswana and Sierra Leone in two friendlies.
The 25-year-old's inclusion comes in the wake of injuries to players such as Percy Tau, Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Fagrie Lakay and Evidence Makgopa and with an added opportunity to earn a spot in the squad for future competitive fixtures.
"We saw Lepasa already last year with Pirates, and I think he was injured because he didn't play anymore. We were a little bit surprised but then we said, 'Okay, maybe this is someone that we could use with the national team [in the future],'" Broos said.
"Now he came back with Pirates in the last few games and I saw the game last week, and he was very strong, very strong. Again, [his selection] is a little bit for the same reason as why we are taking (Themba) Zwane – we have a lot of strikers who are not available.
"So why not give a chance to someone like Lepasa? And maybe it will be a good choice for the next games. We have to see in those games that we play now as preparation for what we have to do in March next year.
"We have to be as strong as possible. Friendly games are there to use and to try some things, so I think Lepasa deserves it and it's up to him now to show it."