JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has included Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala in his 26-man squad to face Senegal in back-to-back 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
The first match takes place on Friday, November 10 at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. Kickoff is at 7pm.
For the second fixture, Bafana Bafana will travel to Dakar to take on the Lions of Teranga on Tuesday, November 14 at Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor with a 9.30pm (South African time) kickoff.
Baxter has kept the bulk of the squad that defeated Burkina Faso 3-1 earlier this month (October 7) in a Fifa World Cup qualifier at FNB Stadium.
He welcomes back the defensive partnership of captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, who was out injured in that match as well as Erick Mathoho and Dean Furman, who were both suspended.
Making his return after a three-year absence is Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Tshabalala.
Baxter has also called up midfielders Bongani Zungu and Andile Jali who are both suspended.
Jali will serve one match after collecting two yellow cards in the qualifiers and will be available for the away leg.
Zungu has been included pending a Fifa disciplinary case, which will sit on the 1st of November to look into the red card he received in the clash against Burkina Faso.
“In an ideal world I would love to have all the players available for every match, but we know it is not possible,” said Baxter.
“In Zungu’s case we will await the outcome of (the) sitting but we have a job to do, and if you thought playing Burkina Faso was a World Cup final, I can tell you now that playing Senegal is much more important than that."
“We have only one option – to win the remaining two games and book our ticket to Russia. Everyone, myself, the players, the Association, media and the public is well aware that anything less than victory in both matches will be curtains for our World Cup aspirations.
“We did well against Burkina Faso, so we have to keep on believing that is it is very much possible to qualify. The good thing is that it is all in our hands.”
Coach Stuart Baxter to name squad to play Senegal on 10&14 November in World Cup qualifiers pic.twitter.com/6mzRfSReCl
Bafana Bafana are bottom of the Group D table with four points – four adrift of log leaders Senegal. Both sides have two matches remaining.
Burkina Faso and the Cape Verde Islands are tied on six points – both are left with one game. The two nations will locks horns on Tuesday, November 14 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
South Africa and Senegal have met seven times before with Bafana Bafana winning one match, losing one and drawing the other four against the West Africans.
Baxter’s men assemble for camp on Sunday, November 5 and travel to Polokwane on Monday, November 6 where they will set up camp.
Bafana Bafana squad: Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Wayne Sandilands, Ronwen Williams. Defenders: Thamsanqa Mkhize, Clayton Daniels, Erick Mathoho, Motjeka Madisha, Morgan Gould, Thulani Hlatshwayo (captain), Tebogo Langerman, Sifiso Hlanti. Midfielders: Hlompho Kekana, Dean Furman, Keagan Dolly, Andile Jali, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Themba Zwane, Bongani Zungu, Thulani Serero, Phakamani Mahlambi, Lebogang Manyama, Siphiwe Tshabalala. Strikers: Percy Tau, Bradley Grobler, Dino Ndlovu.