BREAKING NEWS: No Gabuza as Baxter springs Bafana surprise


Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has picked a strong line-up to face Nigeria in their opening 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier here on Saturday evening.

Perhaps the only surprise is that of Sibusiso Vilakazi playing just behind striker Tokelo Rantie, who returns to the side having missed the two 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Burkina Faso and Senegal late last year.

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Mulomowandau Mathoho, Lorenzo Gordinho and Themba Zwane get ready for Bafana training in Uyo. Photo: @BafanaBafana via TwitterBafana Bafana train at the match venue, the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo. Photo: @BafanaBafana via TwitterAssistant coach Thabo Senong, head coach Stuart Baxter and goalkeeper coach Alex Heredia upon arrival in Nigeria. Photo: @BafanaBafana via TwitterBafana even had a specially branded bus on hand in Uyo. Photo: Mazola MolefeBafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo greets Safa executive member Ria Ledwaba. Photo: @BafanaBafana via Twitter

French-based striker Kermit Erasmus was left out due to a hamstring niggle, while Thamsanqa Gabuza didn’t make the cut either.

“I toyed around with the idea of picking Kermit Erasmus alongside Rantie, but he is injured and didn’t recover from that stomach bug (as well) before we left South Africa,” Baxter explained.

“I also thought about a three-man defensive midfield just to be a bit cautious, but I have gone with two in Bongani Zungu and Dean Furman.

Tokelo Rantie will lead the Bafana attack against Nigeria. Photo: @BafanaBafana via Twitter

“I have left Gabuza out of the side because of the way Nigeria plays.”

The game is at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium and kickoff is at 6pm SA time on Saturday.

Bafana Bafana Team

Itumeleng Khune; Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Tebogo Langerman, Mulomowandau Mathoho, Thulani Hlatshwayo (captain); Dean Furman, Bongani Zungu, Themba Zwane, Keagan Dolly; Sibusiso Vilakazi, Tokelo Rantie.

Substitutes: Darren Keet, Abbubaker Mobara, Lorenzo Gordinho, Andile Jali, Tiyani Mabunda, Percy Tau, Lebogang Manyama.

IOL Sport

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