Bafana Bafana players with a point to prove in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers

Bongani Zungu with Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

Molefi Ntseki's tenure since replacing Stuart Baxter as South Africa head coach has been characterised by an effort to bring new faces into the fray.

Some of his selections have caught the country by surprise, while others have been long-awaited, and his latest squad for the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against Sao Tome and Principe features more new faces alongside older heads who know they are fighting for their place.

ESPN looks at six Bafana Bafana players who have cause to feel as if they each have a score to settle for one reason or another.

Itumeleng Khune

Khune is unlikely to take to the field, but the veteran shot-stopper now finds himself in a perennial battle to justify his place in the national team.

He has been dislodged by Daniel Akpeyi as Kaizer Chiefs' first choice, having battled injuries in recent years, and his form when called upon has been hit and miss. Still, an in-form Khune could provide a solid challenge to Bafana Bafana's No. 1 goalkeeper, Ronwen Williams.

Khune earned rave reviews from Sir Alex Ferguson for his distribution when Chiefs faced Manchester United in 2008, and he should, in all fairness, go down in history as one of South Africa's greatest goalkeepers. Khune will be desperate for an opportunity to prove that his story is not yet told.

Rushine de Reuck

The South African Premier Soccer League's defender of the season has earned his first national team call-up at 24 years.

His has been a unbelievable journey since he returned to South Africa from Portuguese club Paços de Ferreira in 2015. He was initially unwanted by top-flight clubs and had to drop down to the amateur ranks before joining Maritzburg United in 2017.

He remains at Maritzburg rather than moving to one of South Africa's bigger clubs, but few pundits or fans doubt he is one of the country's best defenders. The question is: Can he demonstrate as much at national team level?

Bongani Zungu

Zungu appears on this list not because there is any doubt about his quality but because of the apparent recent friction between him and Ntseki.

The midfielder took to social media to share his frustration after being left out of the squad in March. His comments did not go down well in the corridors of power at the South African Football Association, but Ntseki has always maintained that Zungu is in his plans.

Motivated at club level by playing for idol Steven Gerrard at Glasgow Rangers, he will likely be driven at national level by a desire to prove a point to Ntseki.

A skilful midfielder who poses an aerial threat to opponents, Zungu can certainly add value to the team given a fair opportunity.

Dean Furman

A fierce fighter in the heart of midfield, Furman finds himself up against many quality players in his position.

This, he is used to; what has changed since his latest national team appearance is that he now has to travel from the U.K., where he plays club football with League Two Carlisle United.

It is a testament to Ntseki's trust in Furman that he has selected the 32-year-old from fourth-tier football. His starts against Ghana and Sudan in previous Afcon qualifiers under Ntseki came while he was at Pretoria's SuperSport United.

"I wouldn't say anything has really changed on what my role has always been with the coach and previously under Stuart Baxter, because coach Molefi was there," Furman told ESPN in an exclusive interview.

"[It's] very similar. I think he respects the role I play off the pitch with Tyson [Thulani Hlatshwayo], the captain, and certainly off the pitch he knows what I have to offer."

Lebogang Manyama

It is said that form is temporary and class permanent. Manyama has the latter but the former has deserted him in recent months at Kaizer Chiefs.

Manyama was a key orchestrator of Amakhosi's league title bid, but his loss of playmaking consistency coincided with Chiefs surrendering momentum as they were pipped by Mamelodi Sundowns.

On his best days, he can carry a team almost single-handedly. At the moment, however, Manyama is struggling to find his mojo.

He will hope to emulate his Sundowns counterpart, the similarly talented (and at times erratic) Andile Jali who arrested his slide and silenced his critics after a disappointing start to life at the South African champions.

Thabiso Kutumela

Kutumela has played a major role in Maritzburg United's resurgence in recent years, but his performance in South Africa's 2-1 friendly defeat by Zambia failed to inspire.

Kutumela has scored crucial goals for Maritzburg since his move after a largely disappointing spell at Orlando Pirates, and club coach and Bafana Bafana legend Eric Tinkler recently said that his resurgence at club level had come as a result of him improving his lifestyle and conditioning.

Kutumela is not the most prolific of frontmen, but his big-match temperament has been proven time and time again, and he will be after the same turnaround in national team colours that he achieved at club level.