Stuart Baxter backing for Tokelo Rantie despite previous disciplinary issues
Posted: 30 May 2017 Time: 11:28
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has explained his decision to call up Turkish-based striker Tokelo Rantie despite his fall-out with SAFA in October last year.
Rantie was axed from the national team after failing to report for duty ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier away to Burkina Faso, which ended 1-1, and a friendly international at home to Ghana, in which the same result was recorded.
Despite the said issues under previous coach Shakes Mashaba, Baxter believes Rantie is "a welcome asset" to the national team, particularly for the upcoming 2019 AFCON qualifier away to Nigeria, with the striker having last bagged a brace against the Super Eagles in November 2014.
The British tactician also confirmed that he had spoken to the 26-year-old, who he believes was "ill-advised" at the time of failing to report for camp as he stayed home in the Free State instead.
"The disciplinary issues were before me. I'm sure when Tokelo comes back, the association [SAFA] will be speaking to him about those issues and clear it up," said Baxter.
"In terms of his football: I saw Tokelo playing against Nigeria [in 2014] and he scared them to death. I think Nigeria will not want to see him on the teamsheet.
"In terms of his game: I have had contact with him and I think he feels he's moved on into a better space.
"I think maybe he was ill-advised by certain people and maybe he was getting a little bit depressed because he wasn't playing enough games.
"I feel that a fit, positive and motivated Tokelo Rantie is an asset to Bafana. If he shows me a different side then I'll deal with that, but at this moment I think he's a welcome asset if he's fit, motivated and focused."
Meanwhile, SAFA media manager Matlhomola Morake also confirmed that disciplinary proceedings on Rantie's pending case will get underway once he arrives for camp this weekend.
"Just to add on what the coach was saying on the disciplinary hearing, you'll recall that since then Tokelo hasn't been in the team, so this will be the perfect chance for the team manager [Barney Kujane] to sit down with him and iron out those issues," Morake added.
Rantie has managed 10 goals in 35 senior international appearances thus far, with his last goal having come in an AFCON qualifier against Cameroon, which ended 2-2 in Yaounde on March 26 last year.