Bafana Bafana Head Coach Stuart Baxter has announced a 23-man squad to face Nigeria in a crucial 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier on Nov. 17 at the FNB Stadium.
South Africa’s failure to beat Group E minnows Sychelles in their last fixture, meant that their passage to Cameroon would not be as straight forward as it may have been ahead of their meeting with the Super Eagles.
Selection headaches persist for Baxter who has had to contend with the absence of a number of key players due to injuries– the latest being England-based Kamohelo Mokotjo.
Other key players set to miss the fixture are Dean Furman, Bongani Zungu, Keagan Dolly, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Bradley Grobler, all out with long-term injuries.
“It has really been a tough task to select the team to face Nigeria without some of our regular players, but we have to soldier on.
“These injuries could not have come at the worst of times when we really need to collect all three points because we are well aware of the importance of doing this,” Baxter.
“The positive side, however, is that this gives us a chance to introduce other players into the squad, and these are players we have been monitoring, so it is not like a knee-jerk reaction.
“This helps us to ensure that when we qualify for the tournament, we have an even bigger pool of players to choose from.
“I am also confident that the players brought in will do a good job,’’ Baxter was quoted as saying on the team’s official twitter handle.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Bafana Bafana and the Super Eagles clash at a time when the two arch-rivals have swapped positions at the top.
Nigeria leads Group E with nine points, just one ahead of South Africa which is yet to concede or lose a match in the qualifiers.
“I must admit this makes the upcoming clash all the more interesting.
“Remember we beat them 2-0 in the first leg in their backyard, so they will come here trying to avenge that, on the other hand we want to regain the top spot which we relinquished with the draw away to Seychelles.
“The good thing is that qualification is still in our hands,” added Baxter.
Stuart Baxter and his charge are expected to assemble for camp on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 in Johannesburg.
The next AFCON qualifier for Bafana Bafana will be away to Libya in March 2019.
Below is the full 23-man squad:
Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs FC, S.A), Ronwen Williams (Supersport United FC, S.A), Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits FC, S.A)
Ramahle Mphahlele (Kaizer Chiefs FC, S.A), Motjeka Madisha (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, S.A), Siyanda Xulu (Maritzburg United FC, S.A),Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits FC, S.A),Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates FC, S.A), S’Fiso Hlanti (Bidvest Wits FC, S.A),Buhle Mkwanazi (Bidvest Wits FC, S.A),Thamsanqa Mkhize (Cape Town City FC, S.A)
Vincent PULE (Orlando Pirates FC, S.A), Lebogang Maboe (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, S.A),Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, S.A), Fortune Makaringa (Maritzburg United FC, S.A), Teboho Mokoena(Supersport United FC, S.A), Samuel Mabunda (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, S.A), Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates FC, S.A), Thulani Serero (SBV Vitesse FC, Netherlands)
Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns FC, S.A), Lebo Mothiba (Racing Club De Strasbourg FC, France), Dino Ndlovu (Zhejiang Greentown FC, China), Percy Tau (Royal Union Saint FC, Belgium).