Stuart Baxter keeps his mind open for final Bafana 23 for Afcon
Coach still to decide on some positions ahead of Sunday's squad announcement
Stuart Baxter is keeping his mind open for his final 23 who will make up his Bafana Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) squad and the Briton says some final decisions will be made on Saturday before the announcement of the on Sunday.
The 27-man training squad have had their share of niggling injuries ahead of the tournament to take place in Egypt.
Apart from Keagan Dolly being ruled out of the Nations Cup‚ Kamohelo Mokotjo sat out Wednesday’s training‚ but assured the media it was just a precaution.
Kermit Erasmus sat out Tuesday’s morning session and Thulani Serero that afternoon’s training‚ as players have struggled with tightness of muscles coming back from their short breaks at the conclusion of their various seasons.
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Baxter said the initial three days’ training have been largely about bringing everyone to the same levels of fitness.
Bafana’s sessions are likely to increase in intensity towards a training match — likely to be internal‚ as no opponents have been successfully confirmed — on Saturday. After the squad is announced the team will depart for a second camp in Dubai on Monday.
The Bafana coach is still to decide on a number of positions‚ he said.
“We’ve got the issues that we’ve got‚” Baxter said. “I think I know — because you can’t go with five right-backs and one centreback — in which positions we’ve got to cut. But I’m having an open mind until the last minute so that we don’t do anybody a disservice.”
The coach was asked if there had been signs of nerves from some of the rookie call-ups.
“Probably the opposite. The feeling I’ve had is that the new ones are going in saying ‘what the heck’. They seem to have less pressure on them‚” Baxter said.
“I want to give everybody a chance to put their hand up properly. We’ll have an internal game on Saturday if we don’t get any opposition. If we get opposition then everybody will play 45 minutes. Then I’ll make my decision based on that.”
Baxter indicated that a second friendly international once Bafana arrive in Egypt is finally near conclusion.
“We’re going to play Ghana on June 15 [in Dubai]‚ and we’re going to play Angola in Egypt on June 19‚” the coach said. “We need more than two games‚ really. But that’s what we can get.”
Bafana are drawn with Ivory Coast‚ who they open their tournament against in Cairo on Monday‚ June 24; Morocco and Namibia in group D at Egypt 2019.