Bafana Bafana boss Stuart Baxter admits Rivaldo Coetzee’s absence from his Afcon squad is a huge blow to plans.
Defender Rivaldo was excused from last week’s training camp to be home with his ailing mother and was left out of Sunday’s final 23-man group after failing to keep in contact with team bosses.
It leaves Baxter with only three recognised centrebacks in his squad, with skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo, his Wits partner Buhle Mkhwanazi and Kaizer Chiefs’ Daniel Cardoso vying for starting berths.
The Brit says he thought of calling up another central defender, but will look inside the squad for cover.
While Baxter insists that he has the right balance in the squad that will give him tactical options in Egypt, he has only one real substitute when playing with a flat-four defence and only one trio for three at the back.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter says he has been impressed by the boys professionalism in the past week they have been in camp preparing for the upcoming AFCON in Egypt. pic.twitter.com/bKvpM1tpCO— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) June 11, 2019
He says: “We’ve tried to put together a balanced squad that gives us options tactically.
“I think the strength of the squad is the togetherness of the squad. It’s been very difficult to achieve that balance. We lost a centreback‚ and we’ve only probably in the last few days realised that we were not going to get him into the squad.
“We have Sifiso Hlanti who can play centreback‚ we have Rama [Ramahlwe Mphahlele] who can play centreback.”
Baxter adds of snubbing Cosafa Cup players: “We initially said that Cosafa could be a ground where we could pick up a couple of players if needed, but the longer the camp went on, we decided that we should replenish the squad from within the squad.”