Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has a surprise in store for the wayward players who partied up a storm after the 2018 World Cup qualifying defeat to Cape Verde in Durban in September.
The players started to arrive in camp on Sunday ahead of Saturday’s must-win 2018 World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso and Baxter said he would hand them a new code of conduct‚ warning the party animals in the squad to remain professional at all times.
‘‘There’s a complete new code of conduct‚" Baxter said on Monday. ‘‘It is not completely new to them, but it will be a much more extensive one and there will be a presentation named, The 24-hour Professional. It is basically reminding people that we are 24-hour professionals nowadays.
‘‘When I played in England, we were two-hour professionals. We came‚ we trained‚ we worked really hard and then everybody went to the pub.
"It has become 24 hours now because the demands on our jobs are so much heavier that if you are not 24 hours professionally‚ you just cannot keep up with the rigours of the modern game. Or, you underachieve."
Bafana lost 2-1 to Cape Verde in Praia on September 1 and, 2-1 in Durban in unexpected defeats that left SA’s chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup hanging by the thinnest of threads. It emerged after the poor results that a group of Bafana players partied late into the night.
Bafana’s slim chances of qualifying for the global showpiece in Russia will come to an end if Baxter’s charges are not able to get the better of unbeaten group leaders Burkina Faso at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Baxter also has to deal with myriad injury concerns, which are giving the Briton plenty to think about ahead of Saturday’s crunch encounter.
Andile Jali dislocated his shoulder while playing for Belgian club KV Oostende at the weekend and is doubtful for the match. Bradley Grobler has a groin issue, but Baxter is confident that he will be able to play in the game.
Itumeleng Khune is expected to captain Bafana in the absence of the injured Thulani Hlatshwayo‚ but the Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper also has injury concerns.
‘‘Itu [Khune] will be captain [on Saturday] if he is fit‚" Baxter said. ‘‘But I will make reservations there because we have got a list [of injuries]. So yeah‚ we hope it’s Itu. Itu‚ to a lesser extent‚ has also got a shoulder injury. But that one we can manage‚ I think," Baxter said.
Hlatshwayo’s place will be taken by Cape Town City’s Robyn Johannes.
Mamelodi Sundowns centreback Motjeka Madisha will replace Chiefs defender Eric Mathoho‚ who has been handed a two-match suspension by Fifa.