Bafana Bafana caretaker coach Molefi Ntseki says he excluded the Mamelodi Sundowns duo of Themba Zwane and Sibusiso Vilakazi from the squad to face Zambia in a friendly in September in a bid to lessen their workload.

Ntseki said Zwane played a lot of club football in all competitions for Sundowns and also for the national team in the past few months.

The Bafana coach said that Vilakazi needs to be managed carefully after he was pushed hard at the recent Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) soon after returning from injury.

“Themba played about 99% of Sundowns’ matches last season‚” Ntseki said. “He played all the matches in the Caf Champions League at high intensity. He played for us [at Bafana] at Afcon and we did not give him much of a rest. Vila [Vilakazi] got injured in camp with Bafana last year and he made a remarkable recovery to be ready for Afcon.

“We had to push him very hard during the Afcon camp so that he was able to be ready in time for the continental tournament in Egypt,” he said. “Now we feel that he needs to get himself a good start with Sundowns. And also‚ to get a proper rest because the way he came back to the game after his injury was in a very short period.

“The doctor said to me that it was unbelievable how fast he recovered from the injury he sustained in the national team.”

Ntseki said while there is a chance the two players are not happy after their exclusion from the national team‚ he stressed that no player is entitled to a Bafana shirt.

“They might feel bad to say we are not in the team, but the reality of the situation is that it is not an entitlement‚” he said. “In their case we have a reason why we don’t have them in the team.”

With regards to Bidvest Wits defender Sifiso Hlanti‚ who has not played for his team since the start of the season‚ Ntseki said the left-back was omitted from the squad because of injury.

“I spoke to coach Gavin Hunt and he said Sifiso went for an operation when he came back from Egypt and he is still in rehabilitation‚” he said.

The other player who was not considered is Aubrey Modiba of SuperSport United. Modiba is out injured while his teammate, Teboho Mokoena, will turn out for the national Under-23 side instead.