Baxter content with midfield options
Posted: 9 November 2017 Time: 18:45
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is satisfied with his options in central midfield going into the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Senegal at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Friday.
Baxter cannot call on overseas-based duo Bongani Zungu and Andile Jali for the crucial qualifier due to suspension, while Mamelodi Sundowns' Hlompho Kekana had to be excused from camp on Tuesday following a tragedy in his family.
SuperSport United captain Dean Furman, however, returns from suspension after missing the 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso and he is likely to play in midfield with Kamohelo Mokotjo.
Tiyani Mabunda, who replaced club teammate Kekana, is another option for Baxter and it helps that he has experience of playing on the continent and handling the pressure that comes along with it. Interestingly, Mabunda was a late call-up for last year's encounter against the Lions of Teranga, when he replaced then-injured Furman.
Bafana will need a solid midfield to stop the likes of Idrissa Gueye and Cheikhou Kouyate, the lanky West Ham United midfielder who enjoys getting forward whenever the opportunity to do so
“I go into the game with a midfield selection I am quite happy with. I know we are missing some good players, but I do believe we have good players left in the team," said Baxter.
"Dean is back and for me it’s a plus. The fact that Bongani goes out balances it because it just means one good player goes out and one good player comes in.
“Andile and Hlompho are missed, but we have players that can pick up the baton. I am going to concentrate on the players we and not bemoan the ones that we don’t have. I am happy and I am sure whoever we pick will be up for the task.”
Both Jali and Zungu will be available for Tuesday's match against the Senegalese.