BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
South Africa’s new manager is apparently facing a dilemma as he prepares a team to face the Super Eagles side that had always gotten a better result in previous encounters. Apart from not getting to meet his selected side until June 3, – seven days to the match with Nigeria, he is yet to name a skipper for the side.
Also, he still juggling between two jobs as his current contract with SuperSport United runs till June 24. He had to skip the club’s trip to Gabon for a continental assignment so as to concentrate on selecting a side to face Nigeria.
Sports Village Square gathered from reports emanating from South Africa that fans are still unsure of who will be donning the captain’s armband in Uyo, with Baxter having several options available to him.
The South African Football Association website however quoted the coach as saying he already had an idea of who will lead the Bafana Bafana.
He told the media South African media, “I know who the captain is, but I’m not giving it out today because I want the captain to hear it from me face to face and not read it one of the publications.”
Speculations are rife in the South African media that Itumeleng Khune, the goalkeeper of Kaizer Chiefs, is the most likely player to be given the skipper’s armband.
Some others claim he may give it to Dean Furman, the captain of SuperSport United, which he currently handles.
Sports Village Square gathered that other likely candidates include: Thulani Hlatshwayo and Hlompho Kekana – all who are skippers of their clubs.
Baxter is the only coach to have led a squad that first scored and defeated the Super Eagles 13 years ago.
He is quoted as being eager to see his side get off to a winning start and become the only coach of the South African national team to triumph over the Super Eagles twice.
He has named 25 players for the match with Nigeria. He picked only two from his club, Super Sport United which he will still handle till June 24.
There are six Europe-based players in the 25 man squad he has named for the Nigerian match.
He is reported to have recalled midfielder, Bongani Zungu, who is set to play in the Portuguese Cup final on Sunday for Vitoria Guimaraes, and striker Tokelo Rantie, who scored twice in Uyo in the 2-2 draw with Nigeria in November 2014.
“We have players who have been outstanding in the Premier Soccer League the whole season, and we also have continuity with a number of players that SAFA has invested much time in. I believe we have a good mix,” said Baxter, who is back as coach for a second time.
He added: “We have also looked at aerial strength and tried to spread that well throughout the team; it means if we can have good preparation before we go, then we have a squad that is capable of giving Nigeria a good game.”
Bafana Bafana Squad:
Goalkeepers: Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)
Defenders: Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Lorenzo Gordinho (Kaizer Chiefs), Sifiso Hlanti, Thulani Hlatshwayo (both Bidvest Wits), Tebego Langerman (Mamelodi Sundowns), Mulomowandau Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Abubakar Mobara (Orlando Pirates), Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Kaizer Chiefs)
Midfielders: Keegan Dolly (Montpellier, France), Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Andile Jali (Oostende, Belgium), Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), Kamohelo Mokotjo (Twente Enschede, Netherlands), Aubrey Ngoma (Cape Town City), Bongani Zungu (Vitoria Guimaraes, Portugal), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Forwards: Kermit Erasmus (Racing Lens, France), Thamsanqa Gabuza (Orlando Pirates), Lebogang Manyama (Cape Town City), Tokelo Rantie (Genclerbirligi, Turkey), Percy Tau, Sibusiso Vilakazi (both Mamelodi Sundowns).