Nikola Tavares. Picture: SUPPLIED
Nikola Tavares. Picture: SUPPLIED

Cape Town — SA Under-23 coach David Notoane has called up  Crystal Palace defender Nikola Tavares  to join his squad  for the qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games later in March.

SA take on Angola over two legs during the Fifa international break with the national Under-23 team having been largely inactive since they competed at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Tavares‚ who was born in Cape Town but is a Croatia junior international‚ has been captaining the Palace Under-23s this season and is still only 20.

If the SA Football Association (Safa) can get Tavares to switch allegiances it would be a major coup for the country‚ and potentially for Bafana Bafana going forward.

Other overseas-based players called up are Luther Singh (GD Chaves‚ Portugal)‚ Lyle Foster (Monaco‚ France)‚ Liam Jordan (Koge‚ Denmark)‚ Thabo Cele (Cova Da Piedade‚ Portugal) and Kabelo Seriba (LU/Metta‚ Latvia).

Notoane will be spoiled for choice as among his attacking players are the likes of Singh‚ Foster and Jordan — all strong contenders to start —  with Mamelodi Sundowns striker Phakamani Mahlambi.

Cape Town City’s impressive duo of winger Gift Links and centre-back Keanu Cupido have also been called up‚  with the Kaizer Chiefs pair of Siyabonga Ngezana and Reeve Frosler‚ the only AmaKhosi players in the squad.

The fact that not a single Orlando Pirates player has made it into the selection says how experience and not youth is valued at the Buccaneers.

The goalkeeping department will be an interesting tussle with Under-20 captain Khulekani Kubheka (Cape Umoya United) called into the mix  with Mondli Mpoto (Bloemfontein Celtic) and Darren Johnson (Ajax Cape Town)‚ though none play regularly for their clubs.

If SA advance past Angola‚ they will meet the winner of the tie between Mozambique and Zimbabwe for a place at the African Under-23 Championships in Egypt in November.

Once there‚ they will have to finish in the top three at the eight-team competition to book a ticket to Tokyo.