Serero return is ‘unconditional’ - Baxter
Posted: 5 November 2018 Time: 02:10 pm
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter says he has received assurances from Netherlands-based midfielder Thulani Serero that he is willing to return to the national team without expectations.
Serero infamously snubbed Bafana in November 2017 after being called up for the FIFA World Cup qualifying double-header against Senegal.
This came after the 28-year-old was benched in consecutive World Cup qualifiers against Cape Verde and Burkina Faso last year and refused to report to the national team if he was not guaranteed a place in the starting line-up.
However, as reported by KickOff.com, the Vitesse attacker has since had a change of heart and made himself available following discussions with the SAFA hierarchy, with Baxter explaining his return to the squad to face Nigeria next weekend.
“Thulani indicated strongly to the people in the association that he wanted to make himself available for selection. I obviously checked on his form, and he’s been playing quite well, a lot, and at a good level,” Baxter outlined.
“I obviously spoke to him so that we are both on the same page and I needed to know from him that his availability was unconditional – he assured me it was, and I was delighted to hear that because he’s one of the players that has played at a very good level.
“It isn’t just a sort of ‘open the door and close the door’, like an old Wild West saloon where people come in and they go out, and it doesn’t matter.
“It does matter what sort of environment we have around the national team. What do we believe in? What is the code of conduct and sort of behaviour that the public at large want from their national team?
“We do work hard on that, so it’s not just a case of, ‘Oh, you want to play? Come have a game.’ No, it’s not. He is an important player and he has been an important player.”
The Brit further highlighted the qualities he could bring to the side, particularly with the absence of several key, experienced personnel in midfield.
“I don’t think he’s the sort of player that has a massive impact with his noise in the dressing room, he’s a quiet one, but I’m working on the assumption that anybody can make a poor decision,” he added.
“I thought his decision was poor when he didn’t want to come back, and that’s okay. But I do think everybody’s got a right to a second chance. With me, this is his second chance.
“I think he’s got qualities that we will need in our attacking game – his mobility, vision to see a pass, one on one in tight areas – I think we’ll need that.
“And, I think, if he can give us that and the [right] attitude, which is important that all the other boys see – I don’t think they want a big-time Charlie wondering around as if, ‘Well, I’m back in the team.’
“I think they want a modicum of conscience from him to understand that now he’s got to show everybody that this is the real Thulani now, and I hope they like him. I’m hoping for that, and we’ll see.”