Afcon qualifier: Bafana coach banks on warriors for Eagles
New South Africa coach Stuart Baxter did not spring any surprises when he named his first squad in Johannesburg on Thursday.
The Englishman, appointed earlier this month, said he was looking for “warriors” for the June 10 opening Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Super Eagles in Uyo.
Baxter named 25 players for the match – a tough start for Bafana Bafana in their bid to qualify for the 2019 finals in Cameroon after missing out on this year’s tournament in Gabon, according to BBC Sport.
Baxter picked only two players from his own club SuperSport United, who he leaves on June 24.
He is juggling both jobs at the moment, missing on the club’s trip to Gabon for their African Confederation Cup assignment on Tuesday so he could concentrate on picking the Bafana Bafana squad.
There are six Europe-based players, including recalls for stylish midfielder Bongani Zungu, who is set to play in the Portuguese Cup final on Sunday for Vitoria Guimaraes, and striker Tokelo Rantie, who scored twice in Uyo in November 2014.
“We have players who have been outstanding in the Premier Soccer League the whole season, and we also have continuity with a number of players that Safa has invested much time in. I believe we have a good mix,” said Baxter, who is back as coach for a second time.
He added, “We have also looked at aerial strength and tried to spread that well throughout the team; it means if we can have good preparation before we go, then we have a squad that is capable of giving Nigeria a good game.”
South Africa have never beaten the Super Eagles in a competitive international but in the 2015 Nations Cup qualifiers gave away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw.
Meanwhile, West Brom have reportedly joined Everton and West Ham in the race for Manchester City star Kelechi Iheanacho.
The 20-year-old started just five matches this season and is expected to quit the Etihad in search of first-team football.
And Iheanacho will look for another Premier League team to give him the game time he craves.
Everton are believed to be interested as they search for Romelu Lukaku’s replacement.
While West Ham want a new forward to lead the line following a disappointing campaign at the London Stadium. Punch