JOHANNESBURG – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has been left frustrated by the withdrawals from the squad to face Zambia over two legs in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers.
South Africa and Zambia meet in the first-leg clash of the third and final round at Buffalo City Stadium in East London on Saturday. Baxter had announced 25 players for the two matches, but 10 players were withdrawn shortly before the start of camp.They are Boalefa Pule, Ayabulela Konqobe, Michael Morton all of Amazulu, Mothobi Mvala of Highlands Park, Siyabonga Nhlapo, Denwin Farmer, Cole Alexander, Teboho Mokoena all of Supersport United and Tercious Malepe of Orlando Pirates. Riyaad Norodien, also of Pirates, withdrew because of an injury.
Malepe has since been allowed to remain with the squad, while Sipho Mbule of Supersport United, is the latest to be recalled by his club. Baxter has been able to make some adjustments but it has been a frustrating period for Bafana Bafana.
Seven new players have been called up: Keagan Pool and Tshepo Maboa both of Stellenbosch FC, Thato Lingweti, Mpho Rasilingwane and Lindokuhle Mntambo all of Jomo Cosmos, Menzi Masuku of Chippa United and Jabulani Shongwe of Wits.
Baxter said: “The truth is, we understand that this competition comes at a very difficult time for clubs when they are in pre-season training, but we have been left frustrated by the continuous withdrawals of players which, in some cases, we understand.
"So it has not been a great experience for us in the national team as we have had to focus our attention on which players we have or are coming, instead of working on our plans for Zambia.
"Hopefully from Tuesday we will be able get down to the business of what we are here for, which is to prepare the team for a very crucial match,” he added.
The Bafana Bafana technical team is still working on further replacements, which will be announced as soon as they are confirmed by their clubs.
Meanwhile, Platinum Stars defender, Simphiwe Mnguni, has had to be released from the squad, due to an ankle injury he suffered at his club. He was assessed by the medical team upon reporting for national team duty but was found to carrying the injury.
Bafana Bafana's updated CHAN squad:
Goalkeepers: Keagan Pool (Stellenbosch FC), Steven Hoffman (Platinum Stars FC), Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs FC)
Defenders: Tshepo Maboa (Stellenbosch FC), Thato Lingweti (Jomo Cosmos FC), Mpho Rasilingwane (Jomo Cosmos FC), Sandile Mthethwa (Richards Bay FC), Mario Booysen (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Tercious Malepe (Orlando Pirates FC)
Midfielders: Lindokuhle Mntambo (Jomo Cosmos FC), Menzi Masuku (Chippa United FC), Jabulani Shongwe (Wits FC), Jamie Webber (Stellenbosch FC), Sphelele Ntshangase (Black Leopards FC), Sibusiso Kumalo (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Masilakhe Phohlongo (Ajax Cape Town FC)
Strikers: Bonginkosi Ntuli (Mamelodi Sundowns FC), Ryan Moon (Kaizer Chiefs FC), Gift Motupa (Baroka FC), Tshegofatso Mabaso (Bloemfontein Celtic FC), Dumisani Zuma (Kaizer Chiefs FC).