Baxter: Tower is progressing
Posted: 7 November 2017 Time: 07:40
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter feels Kaizer Chiefs defender Erick Mathoho has made good progress over the last few weeks, after coming off a bad spell of poor decision making on the pitch.
Mathoho was sent off in back-to-back matches for club and country in September and gave away a penalty as Amakhosi edged Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 in an Absa Premiership clash in October.
Mathoho, who worked with Baxter for three seasons at Chiefs, missed out on Bafana’s last two 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers due to suspension but is back in the team for the clash against Senegal at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Friday (19h30). Bafana will play the Lions of Teranga again on Tuesday in Dakar.
"'Tower' has been progressing. I think Tower had a patch where he was a little bit unsure of himself. Maybe he was thinking too much about things that were happening around him, [but] I think he has been progressing nicely to get back to his normal self," Baxter said.
The return of Mathoho, as well as captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, means Baxter has a big decision to make on who plays in central defence on Friday.
SuperSport United duo Morgan Gould and Clayton Daniels did well in the 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso and it would make sense for them to continue playing together, but Baxter will take his time before making a decision on who plays at the heart of the team’s defence.
The former SuperSport coach has the option of playing skipper Hlatshwayo at right-back, should he decide to keep Gould and Daniels in central defence.
"I wish I had headaches like that all over the field. Morgan and Clayton did well against Burkina Faso. They know each other very well. So we are going to look at all the options and the combinations and we will pick the squad that we think will be most unpleasant to play against."
Bafana had their first training session in Polokwane on Monday afternoon, without five of their overseas-based players – Keagan Dolly, Lebogang Manyama, Thulani Serero, Andile Jali and Dino Ndlovu. These players are expected to join the team today.
Mathoho and Amakhosi teammate Siphiwe Tshabalala will also join the team today, while an update on Itumeleng Khune, who fractured a bone in his face, will be provided after he sees a specialist this morning.
"There is not one camp that I have been involved in that has not been chaotic at the beginning, but this one has been on steroids. I always like things to be smoother than this," said Baxter.