Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter can now officially welcome the headache of having to pick a 23-man squad that will rub shoulders with the continent’s best following qualification to this year’s Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.
It won’t be easy, with some new faces impressing during the group stages – and the Siya crew has looked at a few players who will be hoping to make their AFCON debut in three months’ time in Egypt.
It’s a list of more than 10 players. Some, like Buhle Mkhwanazi, Sifiso Hlanti, Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Percy Tau – scorer of the two goals in the victory that guaranteed AFCON qualification on Sunday night away to Libya – have been part of the squad throughout the journey. Others have been on the periphery.
The tournament date has been set to kick off on June 21 and end on July 19 this year in Egypt, and Baxter will be keeping a close eye on his star players during their respective domestic leagues before he names his 23-man squad.
No door is closed for players like Bradley Grobler, Vincent Pule and Itumeleng Khune who have been kept on the sidelines by injuries, although they remain on Baxter’s radar as important players to his squad.
Following Darren Keet’s impressive showing in the 2-1 win over Libya at the weekend, Baxter will have a big decision to make on his goalkeepers. Khune is expected back from a shoulder injury just in time for the AFCON, but will the coach risk it with his inclusion?