JOHANNESBURG, August 21 – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has named his 25-man squad to face Cape Verde in back-to-back 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Baxter kept the bulk of the squad that defeated the Super Eagles 2-0 in Uyo, Nigeria earlier this year in the opening match of the 2019 AFCON qualifiers.
He has made four changes – defender Morgan Gould, who returns to the national team after a long absence, takes the place of Lorenzo Gordinho, midfielders Thulani Serero and Daylon Klaasen come in for Aubrey Ngoma and Sibusiso Vilakazi respectively, while Bradley Grobler replaces Thamsanqa Gabuza.
“It was important that we retain the bulk of the squad for the sake of continuity. We would have wanted to see some more players, but on the other hand, it is crucial that we don’t tamper much with a winning side – if it ain’t broken, why fix it?” said Baxter.
“I am confident that we will do well with this side because if you think about it, this will be a continuation of the work we did in the last camp against Nigeria – too many changes will mean all the work we did in the previous match would have been thrown away.”
South Africa takes on Cape Verde on Friday, 1 September 2017 at the Estadio Nacional Stadium in Cape Verde.
The return leg will be played on Tuesday, 5 September at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
South Africa played to a 1-1 draw against Burkina Faso in Oaugadougou in October 2016 and followed it up with a 2-1 win over Senegal in Polokwane in November 2016.
Bafana Bafana have never lost to Cape Verde in their three previous meetings – they won two and drew one.
Baxter’s men assemble for camp on Sunday in Johannesburg.
They will have only one training session the next day before flying out to Cape Verde on Tuesday, 29 August.
They return to South Africa on Saturday, 2 September and head directly to Durban for their second match.
SAFA President Dr Danny Jordaan said he was excited with the squad coach Stuart Baxter had called up adding South Africa had good chances of qualifying for both the FIFA World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations tournaments in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
“With the COSAFA and CHAN tournaments now out of the way, I am happy that coach Baxter will now concentrate on these important assignments; the FIFA World Cup and the CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments,” said Dr Jordaan.
Bafana Bafana’s next 2018 FIFA World Cup fixture is against Burkina Faso on Saturday, 7 October in South Africa, with Senegal the last hurdle on the road to Russia.
That match will take place in November.
Bafana Bafana squad: Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)
Defenders: Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits), Morgan Gould (SuperSport United), Abbubaker Mobara (Orlando Pirates), Sifiso Hlanti (Bidvest Wits), Tebogo Langerman (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Midfielders: Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier), Andile Jali (KV Oostende), Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford), Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thulani Serero (Vitesse), Bongani Zungu (Vitoria Guimaraes)
Forwards: Daylon Claasen (Bidvest Wits), Percy Tau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebogang Manyama (Cape Town City) Tokelo Rantie (Gençlerbirliği), Bradley Grobler (SuperSport United), Kermit Erasmus (RC Lens)
– African News Agency (ANA)