The unexpected withdrawal of Rivaldo Coetzee from the Bafana Bafana squad late last week gave coach Stuart Baxter some selection concerns just hours before he announced his final 23-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Baxter revealed to the media on Sunday afternoon that he wrestled with whether to call-up another centre back or find a replacement within the provisional team that he was meant to trim down.
“It’s been very difficult to achieve a balance,” he said. “We lost a centre back and probably only realised a couple of days before that we are not going to be able to get him into the squad and we were wondering whether to replace him or just get someone within the squad.”
Baxter said he was comforted by the fact that two of his full backs – Sifiso Hlanti and Ramahlwe Mphahlele – can play in central defence if need be.
“They had small injuries (on Saturday) and we were wondering if he would have to go out and bring in a centre back, and most of them haven’t been doing anything for a couple of weeks (domestic season ended on May 12), apart from those playing the COSAFA Cup. We decided we would solve it in house. I think the strength of the squad is going to be the harmony and that they are goal oriented because they feel a little bit like underdogs,” the coach said.