Stuart Baxter is heading overseas this week to talk to prospective future Bafana Bafana internationals as he looks at options to strengthen the national team.
His primary mission will be in Italy, where he will meet Roodepoort-born Joel Untersee‚ who is back at Juventus after spending the past season on loan at Serie B outfit Brescia.
But he was also going to see players in Portugal and Norway‚ confirmed South African Football Association (Safa) CEO Dennis Mumble on Monday.
Untersee has been named in Juventus’s pre-season squad for the 2017-18 season after making 39 appearances for Brescia last season. He has represented Switzerland at every level of junior football from Under-15 to the Under-21s‚ though he has not yet made a senior national team appearance. This means he can still play for SA. As Untersee was born in Johannesburg‚ he is entitled to South African citizenship and can be eligible to play for Bafana. But because he has played for the Swiss at junior level‚ he must apply to Fifa to change his international ability.
Untersee joined the Juventus youth academy in 2011 and has been part of the pre-season squads for the first teams on a number of occasions since‚ only to then be loaned out.
He spent almost three seasons with FC Vaduz in the Swiss league and then at Brescia‚ with more than 100 senior team appearances across the clubs.
Safa in 2016 expressed the desire to cast its net wider in the hunt for talent for the team‚ which led to the call-up of Dutch-born Lars Veldwijk.
Bafana’s chances of playing in the Africa Cup of Nations finals got a 50% boost with the confirmation by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) that the top two teams in each group will qualify for the new expanded tournament in 2019.
Previously only the winner and the three best runners-up in the 12 qualifying groups were set to qualify for the finals in Cameroon. But now that Caf has decided that the finals will be expanded to 24 teams instead of 16‚ it has been confirmed that two in each of the 12 qualifying groups will advance‚ except for Group B where the host nation Cameroon are participating.
Cameroon are guaranteed a place in the finals as hosts‚ so only one of the other teams in the group — the Comoros Islands‚ Malawi or Morocco — will go to the tournament.
SA compete in Group E with Libya‚ Nigeria and the Seychelles and with an away win over the Super Eagles already under their belt‚ Bafana now have to virtually implode not to make the list of 2019 finalists.