Veteran footballers Siphiwe Tshabalala‚ Morgan Gould and Reneilwe Letsholonyane could be set for a shock return to the national team several years after last donning the Bafana Bafana shirt.
SA face Cape Verde in Praia in a must-win 2018 World Cup qualifier in September, and insiders told Business Day on Wednesday that the players were back in coach Stuart Baxter’s squad.
Thulani Serero of Vitesse Arnhem in Holland and Kamohelo Mokotjo of English Championship side Brentford‚ who both missed the last qualifier against Nigeria in June‚ are also expected to return to Bafana.
Rivaldo Coetzee‚ who did not have a full pre-season with Ajax Cape Town after a dispute with the club‚ is likely to be replaced by Gould in defence.
Kermit Erasmus‚ who missed the Nigeria match due to injury‚ and Andile Jali‚ who started on the bench‚ are expected to be in the squad.
Highly placed insiders at Safa House confirmed the surprise recalls on Wednesday.
Gould last played for Bafana four years ago in a 2-0 win over Central African Republic in a World Cup qualifier. Tshabalala last donned national colours in a 5-0 drubbing by Brazil in a friendly three years ago.
Letsholonyane’s last match for the national team was a 2-1 loss to Ghana during the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
The insiders said Baxter was impressed by the performances of the three players last season and decided to recall them.
The 32-year-old Tshabalala was named Kaizer Chiefs’ player of the season and was the club’s top goal scorer with eight goals in all competitions.
His long-range stunner against SuperSport United was voted by the fans as the best goal of the season and it beat an incredible acrobatic effort by Baroka FC goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke against Orlando Pirates. The 34-year-old Gould‚ who worked with Baxter at SuperSport before the Briton was reappointed as Bafana coach at the end of last season‚ was named the club’s player of the season.
Letsholonyane was one of the standout performers for Matsatsantsa A Pitori in all competitions. He helped the club qualify for the quarterfinal stage of the Caf Confederations Cup. Letsholonyane‚ who is 35, is approaching his 14th professional season with United under coach Eric Tinkler.
He recently reiterated that he never retired from international football and would welcome another chance to represent his country. "If I get a call from national coach Stuart Baxter‚ I will definitely respond to it because I never said that I have retired from international football‚" he said.