Rivaldo Coetzee not returning to the Bafana Bafana camp from compassionate leave hasn’t helped matters as coach Stuart Baxter faces what he believes is a mountain to climb in selecting his final 23-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Baxter, who feels all 26 players deserve an Afcon place, will announce his final squad today at Montecasino in Fourways.
Having assembled for camp last Sunday, Mamelodi Sundowns centre-back Coetzee pleaded with the coach to grant him compassionate leave as his mom was ill. Baxter agreed. However, as of yesterday – six days down the line – and Coetzee was yet to report for camp, with Baxter unaware of his whereabouts.
“I won’t go into slaughtering him because I don’t know the situation now. But he’s not back to us and that’s disappointing – that he’s not shown the desire even though he has personal issues,” Baxter said.
“I went out of my way a little bit and selected Rivaldo even though he hasn’t played much. I think he’s a player of the future.
“Even though this is a major tournament, my job is to think about the future. Bruce (Bvuma, third choice goalkeeper) is here because he is the future. We are considering taking younger players. Why? Because they are the future.”
This past week, the South Africans began their preparations for their African safari as they had intense training sessions for four days at Steyn City School in Fourways.
Moreover, those sessions were put to the test yesterday as Baxter’s men fine-tuned their preparations through an indoor friendly among themselves.
To Baxter this was an opportunity to make his last assessment about the country’s flag bearers in Egypt, while this was a last chance for some of the players to make an impression.
In Baxter’s roster there are new faces in the team such as Orlando Pirates’ talisman Ben Motshwari, who got his first call-up in the provisional nowing that they’ve been selected for this squad to go to an Afcon.