DURBAN - Giovanni Solinas believes Kaizer Chiefs' midfield kingpin Siphelele Ntshangase is good enough to make a return to the Bafana Bafana squad. Bafana’s coach, Stuart Baxter, came under fire for leaving Ntshangase out of his recently-released his squad.
Bafana will battle it out for six points and the top spot when they face the Seychelles in back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Baxter's men will be at home on Saturday as they welcome Seychelles to the FNB Stadium at 3pm.
They will then visit the same opponents three days later at Stade Linete in Victoria, with that match kicking off at 5.30pm SA time. Bafana are currently equal with Libya on four points, having beaten Nigeria 2-0 away in their first fixture and drawn 0-0 with Libya last month in Durban.
Social media was buzzing last Monday when Baxter announced his Bafana squad, and the masses expressed their disappointment about the omission of Ntshangase and Xola Mlambo of Orlando Pirates.
Baxter went for a midfield that includes Dean Furman, Hlompo Kekana, Thabo Nodada, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Teboho Mokoena. Chiefs’ coach Solinas said that Ntshangase has all the potential to make the grade at national level.
“I respect Stuart Baxter. He is a good coach. He is fantastic and we must respect his decision, but for me, I still believe Ntshangase can play in the national team. He is a young player and he has improved a lot in the last two months,” Solinas told the media in Durban on Saturday after his side lost 1-0 to Polokwane City.
Ntshangase has six caps for Bafana, and netted twice in those appearances - both against Mauritius in 2015 - but has not represented his country since September last year. “He is fantastic on the ball. He has improved defensively. He is now a box-to-box midfielder. Why not? Yes (he can play for Bafana Bafana),” Solinas added.
Ntshangase has dazzled this season with his crisp and swift passes. The man affectionately known as 'champagne pass' has started 12 games across all the competitions in the current campaign.
This past weekend, he was paired with George Maluleka instead of Willard Katsande in the middle of the park. Maluleka operated as a central defensive midfielder while Ntshangase was used in his position as a player-maker.
"We tried to play football but Maluleka is also good defensively. He is good when it is time to regain possession. Maluleka and Ntshangase can play together. Ntshangase can also play with Katsande or Maluleka and Katsande. Katsande and Maluleka played well against Free State Stars. We have the best combination,” Solinas said.
Katsande has started 9 of the 10 league matches that Amakhosi have been involved in this season, and also started all their matches in the MTN8. In total, Katsande, has played in 12 games, and over the past few seasons, has been a key player for Amakhosi.
“Katsande is a very important player for us. He is important for the club and for me. Katsande is leading with more minutes played. I need to prepare for plan B when Katsande is injured or suspended. We need to have different options," Solinas elaborated.