Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter says his selection of SuperSport United players - six were included in the national team’s back-to-back 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Cape Verde in Praia on Friday and Durban on Tuesday - is not one of bias.
There has been suggestions the coach seems to gravitate towards his former group of players and staff at the Tshwane side in his new job.
Goalkeepers Ronwen Williams, Reyaad Pieterse, defenders Morgan Gould, Clayton Daniels, midfielder Dean Furman and striker Bradley Grobler are all Matsatsantsa players who are currently in the Bafana camp, and worked with the Scotsman from January 2015 until July this year when he was in charge at the club.
Baxter also invited SuperSport goalkeeper coach Andre Arendse to camp.
“Alex Heredia, at short notice, went to Philadelphia and Andre is the one we pulled in because he is local, close to the camp and he knows what I want,” Baxter explained.
“And also, when you’ve got Reyaad and Ronwen, they are comfortable with him and we were going into a high-pressure situation.
“There is a logic there - it’s not just selection with heartstrings. I wouldn’t work like that, in terms of favours or picking with your previous loyalties.
“There is that and there is the centre-backs. Unfortunately we had to withdraw Rivaldo (Coetzee).
“When you can get someone local that is great because he can attach himself to the camp quickly, then he’s got to know what you want, and Clayton does.
“And then with set plays we don’t have to do a lot of work, players don’t have to go in like a rabbit in the headlights when you get bombarded with set-plays in the last minute.”
There was a hullaballoo about the inclusion of Gould in the original Bafana squad and then another racket when Daniels took the place of the injured Coetzee ahead of the trip to Praia, where Bafana suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde.
“Are there other candidates in this country for the centre-back position? Of course there are. And the goalkeepers? Of course there are. But in here and now, we are not talking about development, or three years down the line, Russia or the Africa Cup of Nations,” Baxter added.
“We are talking about someone being able to go in now and do a job.
“As I have said, I don’t make those decisions based on emotions. I make those in my opinion, and if there are people with a different opinion, that is football. And that is probably the beauty of football.
“And I want people to know that I make those on facts and not fiction.”