Baxter chops Bafana average age


Bafana are set to meet the Mediterranean Knights in their round-two Africa Cup of Nations group qualifier on September 8 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

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Currently joint top of the group, Libya boast a superior goal difference after beating Seychelles 5-1 in June last year, while South Africa condemned Nigeria to 2-0 defeat.

This will now be the first competitive fixture played by Bafana since their back-to-back defeats to Senegal in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in November last year.

Thus, Baxter has rung the changes by dropping 12 players that featured in that camp while also trimming the squad to just 22, which boasts an average age of 26,4.

The likes of Wayne Sandilands, Clayton Daniels, Morgan Gould, Tebogo Langerman and Siphiwe Tshabalala have all been traded for 'newer models'.

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Several younger players including Lebo Mothiba, Siphesihle Ndlovu and Teboho Mokoena, as well as Siyanda Xulu and Innocent Maela, have been drafted in following their showings at the Zambia four-nations tournament and recent COSAFA Cup this year.

Baxter maintains that the focus is firmly on building towards a more sustainable team, and as such has chopped the average age of the squad down from 27,6.

"When we played Senegal [last year], we identified a strategy that will move us along the road to Afcon and further on. From that squad to this squad, we have an 11-man swing," explained Baxter.

"This is only a smaller squad because our second game has been cancelled, so we're announcing a 22-man squad, and not all of those players that are not in this squad are out of the picture.

"But what it does do is that the Zambia camp and COSAFA were part of a strategy to broaden and deepen the pool of players, and to introduce a few younger players.

"The average age of this squad is 26,4 – which is knocking 18 months off the squad [against Senegal] – so we're also trying to bring in some younger players and creating a new squad that's part of a strategy, not just a publicity stunt."

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In the current squad, Itumeleng Khune, Hlompho Kekana and Dean Furman are the only three players over the age of 30.