Stuart Baxter basically said a need for more cover in central defence is the main reason he left striker Kermit Erasmus out of his final 23-man squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Cape Town City’s Erasmus, along with midfielders Ben Motshwari and Fortune Makaringe, were left out yesterday as Baxter whittled it down to the final names that will leave for Dubai today, before heading to Cairo later this month.
Bafana play their first Afcon match against Ivory Coast on June 24.
Baxter has already had to deal with the loss of midfielder Keagan Dolly to injury, while defender Rivaldo Coetzee is not available for selection after he got time off from the beginning of Bafana’s camp to be with his seriously ill mother, but has since disappeared from contact.
“I told the players when we selected the squad of 27 players (including Coetzee) that whether or not they are at the Afcon, I hope they see it as a massive boost to their careers,” said Baxter yesterday.
“I told Kermit that I think he just really got his career back on track at Cape Town City, and I wanted to tell him he is doing well by inviting him to the squad. Until the last day he has been in with a good chance, I just think I have cover in those positions, and I had to pick players who can cover at centreback. That tilted the scales a bit.
“I hope he sees it like that, and with the other two lads (Motshwari an Makaringe) it is the same. We have more experienced midfield players, I hope they see it as a step forward in their careers.”
Baxter has also not called up any players from the 2019 Cosafa Cup squad, despite declaring it a possibility throughout the camp.
“Sifiso Hlanti can play centreback and Rama (Mphahlele) can play centreback,” said the Bafana coach.
Final Bafana squad for Afcon:
Goalkeeper: Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs)
Defenders: Daniel Cardoso (Chiefs), Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Chiefs), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Wits), Innocent Maela (Pirates) S’fiso Hlanti (Wits), Buhleyeza Mkhwanazi (Wits), Thansanqa Mkhize (Cape Town City FC)
Midfielders: Bongani Zungu (Amiens SC), Dean Furman (SuperSport), Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford FC), Tiyani Mabunda (Sundowns), Thulani Serero (SBV Vitesse), Thembinkosi Lorch (Pirates), Themba Zwane (Sundowns), Hlompho Kekana (Sundowns)
Strikers: Lebo Mothiba (Strasbourg), Percy Tau (Royal Union Saint FC), Lars Veldwuk (Sparta), Lebogang Maboe (Sundowns), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Sundowns)
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