Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has defended his decision to call up China-based Dino Ndlovu to the squad to face the Seychelles in back-to-back 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers this month.
Baxter has said in the past that Ndlovu’s previous league in Azerbaijan was ‘‘probably not the best in the world"‚ but it seems he does not have similarly strong views about the Chinese league after he named Ndlovu on Monday in the squad to face the islanders.
The Briton said with SuperSport United striker Bradley Grobler out injured he viewed Ndlovu as an able replacement in the two must-win games.
‘‘We have got Bradley out and we are looking for a striker. You look at the strikers that are hitting the back of the net regularly. Dino is doing that‚" Baxter said.
‘‘Now I think against a team like the Seychelles we will need a bit of muscle.
‘‘We have Lebo [Mothiba] and we have Dino. We will need a bit of guile and we have Percy [Tau]‚ and we will need pace and we have Phakamani [Mahlambi]‚" Baxter said.
‘‘That is a decent balance of front players and I think that if Dino plays‚ he will believe he will score."
Bafana have struggled to find the back of the net in recent times and could not even punish Libya in a 2019 Afcon qualifier that ended in a potentially costly 0-0 draw at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in September.
‘‘I am not sure how many strikers we have available to us that believe they are going to score‚" Baxter said.
‘‘It is always an issue and you always grill me on this after games when we do not score.
‘‘Well this one is scoring and whether it is in the first or 10th division‚ he is scoring regularly.
‘‘And I have seen some of the goals [Ndlovu] has scored and they are good goals.
‘‘So I think he’s well worth bringing into the squad to maybe be a little infectious with his belief in his own ability.
‘‘That is one of the reasons we have brought him in."
Baxter said injuries forced him to make several changes and he will have to do without Grobler‚ Themba Zwane‚ Keagan Dolly‚ Bongani Zungu and Siphesihle Ndlovu.
Bafana will host the first qualifier against the Seychelles at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg (3pm) on October 13.
The return will take place on October 16 in Seychelles (2.30 pm SA time).