He has been on the periphery of the Bafana Bafana squad for a while now, but talented midfielder Thulani Serero is finally back in the national set-up.
Bafana coach Stuart Baxter included the mercurial playmaker, who plies his trade at Vitesse Arnhem in The Netherlands these days, in the group announced on Monday for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria on November 17 at the FNB Stadium.
The 28-year-old former Ajax Cape Town and Ajax Amsterdam player was banned from Bafana in February for failing to honour a call-up for the Senegal World Cup qualifier last year, where he wanted to be guaranteed game time.
The SA Football Association has now removed the suspension, and Baxter is looking forward to working with him again.
“He is and he has always been an important player for us,” Baxter said on Monday.
“He is a quiet boy in the dressing room, and I am working on the assumption that everybody can make a mistake.
“This is his second chance, and he has the quality that we need in our attacking game.”
Serero’s return comes at just the right time, as Baxter is without a whole host of injured players, including Kamohelo Mokotjo, Dean Furman, Bongani Zungu, Keagan Dolly, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Bradley Grobler.
One of the new faces in the squad is Maritzburg United midfielder Fortune Makaringe.
“It has really been a tough task to select the team to face Nigeria without some of our regular players, but we have to soldier on,” Baxter said.
“These injuries could not have come at a worse time, when we really need to collect all three points because we are well aware of the importance of doing this.
“The positive side, however, is that this gives us a chance to introduce other players into the squad, and these are players we have been monitoring, so it not like a knee-jerk reaction.
“This helps us to ensure that when we qualify for the tournament we have an even bigger pool of players to choose from. I am also confident that the players brought in will do a good job.”
Bafana Bafana Squad
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Darren Keet (Wits).
Defenders: Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Chiefs), Motjeka Madisha (Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyanda Xulu (Maritzburg United), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates), Thulani Hlatshwayo, Sfiso Hlanti, Buhle Mkhwanazi (all Wits), Thamsanqa Mkhize (Cape Town City).
Midfielders: Vincent Pule, Thembinkosi Lorch (all Pirates), Fortune Makaringe (Maritzburg), Lebohang Maboe, Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda (all Sundowns), Teboho Mokoena (SuperSport), Thulani Serero (Vitesse).
Strikers: Lebo Mothiba (Strasbourg), Percy Tau (Royal Union), Dino Ndlovu (Zhejiang), Themba Zwane (Sundowns).@ashfakmohamed