“The more important part is to get somebody who can partly be with the squad – let’s call it player support: be around the players,” said Stuart Baxter about a role for Mark Fish. Photo: Paballo Thekiso
“The more important part is to get somebody who can partly be with the squad – let’s call it player support: be around the players,” said Stuart Baxter about a role for Mark Fish. Photo: Paballo Thekiso
Keagan Dolly has been mainly part of Montpellier’s reserve team lately, so Stuart Baxter is concerned about whether he will have the necessary sharpness at international level. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Keagan Dolly has been mainly part of Montpellier’s reserve team lately, so Stuart Baxter is concerned about whether he will have the necessary sharpness at international level. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Itumeleng Khune is highly unlikely to be part of the Bafana Bafana squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, and coach Stuart Baxter is also worried about the progress of Keagan Dolly.

In addition, former stalwart defender Mark Fish may also play a role as part of the set-up at the Afcon and beyond.

Dolly was out of action for months with a broken leg, but was part of the Bafana squad for the decision Afcon qualifier against Libya in March.

The former Mamelodi Sundowns star, though, was withdrawn just a few days before the match with a stiff hamstring.

He has been mainly part of his French club Montpellier’s reserve team lately, so Baxter is concerned about whether he will have the necessary sharpness to compete at international level.

The same goes for Bongani Zungu at Amiens, although he was part of the first team in Ligue 1 again last month following a knee ligament injury.

“Keegan has played, Bongani (Zungu) has been on the bench, after playing for an hour. They’ve got to be fit – but whether they are razor-sharp, we’ll have to assess that,” Baxter said at a press conference on Thursday.

“Keegan’s injury was such a severe one, and Bongani is doing very well.

“Keegan’s one is a difficult one for us, as he went back with a new injury (hamstring). It’s not something we are taking lightly.”

But while both former Masandawana stars are likely to be included in the squad for Egypt, Khune is set to continue his recovery from a shoulder injury at home.

Keagan Dolly has been mainly part of Montpellier’s reserve team lately, so Stuart Baxter is concerned about whether he will have the necessary sharpness at international level. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Keagan Dolly has been mainly part of Montpellier’s reserve team lately, so Stuart Baxter is concerned about whether he will have the necessary sharpness at international level. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

“I was at Naturena this week and spoke to Ernst (Middendorp, Chiefs coach) and the staff there. They said his training is going very slowly, and it’s not in the realm of possibility that he is going to be anywhere near fit,” Baxter revealed.

With regards to Fish, the Bafana mentor envisages a role outside of coaching, especially considering Quinton Fortune is not available for the Afcon.

“In terms of the actual coaching, we can manage that.

“The more important part is to get somebody who can partly be with the squad – let’s call it player support: be around the players, ask them how are you feeling, is the food okay, family, and be a scout,” Baxter said.

“Quinton (Fortune) would’ve been okay… Quinton can’t do it. We are contemplating someone like Mark Fish, who is very well known.

“So that afterwards, after Afcon, they will know Mark Fish if he has to visit someone. He’s considering his availability, and we will take it from there.”

The Bafana boss added that a pre-Afcon friendly against Ghana has been confirmed, while the SA Football Association were still in discussions with Algeria and Tunisia for two extra matches before the tournament.

@ashfakmohamed


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