While Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was adamant that there wasn’t place for everybody in the Africa Cup of Nations squad, fans were still bewildered by the absence of Thapelo Morena and Vincent Pule.
Baxter named a 30-man provisional squad for the African showpiece in Egypt minus Sundowns star Morena and Pule of Orlando Pirates.
Other players who can consider themselves unlucky to miss the cut include Pirates goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, SuperSport United winger Aubrey Modiba, and Sundowns duo Mosa Lebusa and Tebogo Langerman.
But it was the selection of Kaizer Chiefs right back Ramahlwe Mphahlele ahead of the versatile Morena, who is capable of playing as a fullback and winger, that drew sharp criticism from Bafana fans on social media.
Cedrick Rambau said on Twitter @RambauSingo: “Thapelo Morena must be the unluckiest player in S.A. What more should he do to deserve a call up? I mean Mphahlele has been terrible recently. Morena also adds the versatility, I'm really lost for words”
@ClementRave: “I feel sorry for Thapelo Morena.”
@vuyo_azania: “No, Thapelo Morena in the Bafana Bafana team!!!! Jwang?”
@bhuthikhens: “Imagine telling Mosa Lebusa, Thapelo Morena and Aubrey Modiba that they’ll be watching AFCON19 instead of participating in it. I can’t NOT laugh when I think about it.”
@AmakhosiA: “Rama mphahlele’s prayer is too strong they choose him over thapelo Morena”
Pule won the Goal of the Season award last Sunday, and despite featuring for Bafana last year, he was left out.
@JackPhakathi: “So what about a player that scored a goal of the season Vincent Pule? Is he not worth a call up?”
@andile_mlacash: “How did Vincent Pule not make it on the Bafana Bafana AFCON squad though.”
One of the men who hasn’t been part of the Baxter plans in recent years, Cape Town City striker Kermit Erasmus, was a surprise inclusion.
The Bafana coach said at a press conference on Tuesday that he was monitoring Erasmus.
“Kermit has been around us, and we didn’t choose him in previous camps because it was a bit too quick. Benni has done a good job with Kermit – put his arm around him, making him feel part of the squad,” Baxter said.
“I told Benni I couldn’t guarantee Kermit a place in Bafana. He has worked hard, and now he has been in selected. Kermit can play both of those roles – as a nine, and 10, as can Lebo Maboe.”
Baxter added that he was still awaiting clearance for Joel Untersee and Nikola Tavares, who have yet to receive their South African passports.
Untersee, 25, is a defender at FC Zurich in Switzerland, while 20-year-old Tavares is a centreback at Crystal Palace.