JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has brought down the average age of the national team in his most recent squad selection ahead of facing Libya on September 8.
Baxter named a 22-man team that will report for camp this Sunday in preparation of their second Africa Cup of Nations group stage clash at home against the North Africans at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
“The average age is 26.4 and that shows we are bringing in young players and creating a new squad. This is not a publicity stunt,” the coach said on Tuesday morning when he named his team.
“We have had an 11-man swing from our last qualifier against Senegal (a World Cup qualifiers last year), but that doesn’t mean those who have been left out are not part of the bigger picture. But this makes it clear that our camps in Zambia and during the Cosafa Cup were to deepen the pool of players.”
Baxter said he would have ideally liked to have a friendly match post the Afcon qualifier against Libya, but that has since been scrapped because of budget constraints at Safa as well as the struggle to find an opponent.
“That is why I have only picked a 22-man squad. It wouldn’t have made sense to select other players coming from far to sit in the stands, but if we had a second game then I could have looked at a few more of them, maybe even change the way we play a little bit,” Baxter explained.
Bafana beat Nigeria in their Afcon opener last year and will face Seychelles in Johannesburg a little over a month after the Libya game in Durban. The two sides both tied on three points. Libya thrashed Seychelles 5-1 in their opener.
Bafana Bafana squad:
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune, Darren Keet, and Ronwen Williams
Defenders: Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Sifiso Hlanti, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Motjeka Madisha, Siyanda Xulu, Innocent Maela, Buhle Mkhwanazi.
Midfielders: Dean Furman, Siphesihle Ndlovu, Hlompho Kekana, Bongani Zungu, Teboho Mokoena, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Sibusiso Vilakazi.
Strikers: Themba Zwane, Keagan Dolly, Percy Tau, Lebo Mothiba, Bradley Grobler.