JOHANNESBURG – Stuart Baxter has named Bidvest Wits defender Thulani Hlatshwayo as the new permanent Bafana Bafana captain.
The national team coach made the announcement on Monday afternoon during his press conference ahead of his side’s opening 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria on Saturday in Uyo.
Hlatshwayo, 27, is also captain of his Premier Soccer League team Wits and was a vital cog in helping the Clever Boys win the championship during the 2016/17 season, which ended a little over a week ago.
He doesn’t necessarily take over from anyone as Shakes Mashaba, Baxter’s predecessor, did not believe in having a permanent captain and therefore often changed captains.
“I think he has all the qualities,” Baxter explained. “He will be a permanent captain because I don’t believe in rotating the armband around because it takes away the value.
“Thulani has all the experience in the PSL and in continental football as a whole. There is also the possibility of having a group captain and a team captain.
“A group captain can be someone who helps speak for the team if there are any issues to be raised, and I don’t think Thulani quite fancies that. Maybe Itumeleng Khune or Dean Furman wouldn’t mind those kind of things.”
Hlatshwayo has 23 caps for Bafana to date.
“I also like the fact that he is a centreback because they are in the thick of things and are the driving force in a team,” Baxter added.
Meanwhile, national team doctor Thulani Ngwenya revealed that seven players arrived in camp on Monday carrying injuries.
They are Lebogang Manyama (right knee), Andile Jali (groin), Tokelo Rantie (right toe is swollen and also has right knee injury), Tiyani Mabunda (ankle), Aubrey Ngoma (groin), Rivaldo Coetzee (hamstring) and Mulomowandau Mathoho (concussion).