Tokelo Rantie.  Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEFTY SHIVAMBU
Tokelo Rantie. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEFTY SHIVAMBU

Tokelo Rantie is bemused that the coach who took him to Bournemouth, where the Bafana Bafana striker became increasingly marginalised, did not play him because of his height not fitting in with the gameplan.

As the striker makes a timely return to the Bafana squad to meet Nigeria — who he tormented with a brace in a 2-2 draw here two-and-a-half years ago — in Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, Rantie broke his silence on his unhappy time in England.

Rantie played 64 games in three seasons at Bournemouth, and just three in 2015-16, having become their record signing from Malmo in Sweden.

The player battled to understand why Eddie Howe signed a short player if the manager had a long-ball gameplan.

"It was not a matter of me not getting chances, or me not having good training. Most of the time, I felt I deserved a chance. The coach’s style of play didn’t match my height. And that’s when I decided: ‘You know what, I don’t need to stay here any more’."

Rantie subsequently signed for Turkish club Genclerbirligi where his career has blossomed and at the same time proved a point to his doubters.

"I might not be the best footballer, but I’m a hard worker.

"For me now, it’s good that I’m back with the national team. It came at a time when I’m doing well at club level, and we are playing Nigeria.

"And I know what I did to them last time."

Rantie had not been called up to play for Bafana since failing to arrive for the 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Burkina Faso in October.

The forward has been getting game time and good reviews with Genclerbirligi, which he puts down to the influence of manager Umit Ozat.

"Coming from two years without playing regularly was difficult, I had to adjust to the league," Rantie said.

"But the manager gave me so much confidence that it’s impossible for me not to play well. I’m quite happy with my progress and looking forward to the new season.

"And it’s an exciting feeling for me now to be called up because I’ve been doing well at club level. So I don’t feel I have much stress in terms of what I will do when I get a chance to play against Nigeria.

"I have no fear. I believe that we have a good enough team and players to cause them problems. It’s not the same Nigeria. They have a lot of inexperienced players at international level, so that gives us a boost.

"So hopefully we’ll come out victorious on Saturday."

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