JOHANNESBURG – Thapelo Morena, Thabo Nodada and Dino Ndlovu are just some of the names that are making a return to the national team ahead of the two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Seychelles this month.
Bafana Bafana coach, Stuart Baxter, included the trio – who play for Mamelodi Sundowns, Cape Town City and Hangzhou Greentown (China) respectively – when he announced his 25-man squad on Monday morning at Safa House.
“There is one change at the back for instance, I don’t like to chop and change. In midfield and upfront, we have made changes that gives us options and we can play with fullbacks. I hope the changes don’t affect team morale and the desire to get the job done. What I am expecting is to grab their chances and try to establish themselves,” said Baxter.
It’s the first time Baxter has called up both Morena and Nodada, while Ndlovu has never really been a regular.
“My concerns sometimes with him is that Downs are dominant and play on the front foot. Some of the games we wouldn’t have been on the front foot. He gives me the option of playing on the front foot. If he is pinned back then he would struggle. This game will suit him,” the coach said of the Sundowns defender.
On Nodada, he explained: “I have felt in the past he was erratic. The last few games he is a lot more calm and structured. Maybe Benni has been working on that. His energy is different and desire is different. He is a good alternative, with Sphe Ndlovu not in the squad. He has earned it and had a good cup final.”
Ndlovu is a direct replacement for Bradley Grobler, who is currently battling with a recurring groin injury. That meant he had to start on the bench in SuperSport's MTN8 cup final defeat to Nodada’s City at the weekend.
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Bafana Bafana squad:
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Darren Keet, Ronwen Williams.
Defenders: Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Motjeka Madisha, Thapelo Morena, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Sifiso Hlanti, Siyanda Xulu, Innocent Maela.
Midfielders: Dean Furman, Teboho Mokoena, Lebogang Maboe, Hlompho Kekana, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Thabo Nodada, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Vincent Pule, Lebogang Phiri.
Strikers: Dino Ndlovu, Percy Tau, Lebo Mothiba, Phakamani Mahlambi.