Absent Bafana defender ignores calls

A Bafana Bafana defender has gone silent for three days after being excused from the squad as they prepare for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Rivaldo Coetzee has not reported for Bafana camp since the squad assembled on Sunday, and has yet to confirm his whereabouts to the technical team or management.

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Coetzee was named amongst Stuart Baxter's 28-man provisional squad last month, but has since been withdrawn after initally asking to be excused.

The 22-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns centre-back last communicated that his mother was critically ill but has not been in contact since then regarding his intention to report for duty.

"I've got to be a bit careful... Look, Rivaldo called me the day we were assembling [Sunday] and said that his mother was critically ill and he didn't think that she would make it through the night," explained Baxter.

"He then asked for permission to go [home], and I said, 'Of course you can go.' I said, 'But you're going to miss training. How much have you done in the last three weeks [since the season ended]?'

"He says, 'Nothing.' I say. 'Okay, that's going to be a challenge.' So, we gave him permission to go to his mother and we've heard nothing for three days. We've tried to get in touch with him but we've heard nothing.

"And now, all we can tell you is that he's in the Northern Cape somewhere. So, he's basically unselectable."

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Last week, Sundowns forward Phakamani Mahlambi was also withdrawn from the Bafana squad taking part in the ongoing COSAFA Cup in Durban for varying reasons reported in the media, some suggesting it was ill-discipline.

Both Mahlambi and Coetzee have been touted as key figures in the future of Bafana, and Baxter has since expressed that such incidents don't make it easy to get around.

"When I say, I've got to be careful, that's why I say it. Because if his mother is critically ill then I don't want to make it sound like I'm throwing him under the bus... But we've not been able to contact him.

"If you want to play for your national team, I'm guessing that you're at least in touch with the coach to tell him, 'Look, I'm coming. Don't worry about me, I'm training.' But if he's not done anything for three weeks, maybe he feels himself that... I don't know."

Baxter is set to announce his final 23-man squad on Sunday, before they leave for Dubai on Monday, June 10. Bafana will then play Ghana in a friendly on June 15 before heading to Cairo for a friendly against Angola on June 19.

Their opening AFCON clash is scheduled for June 24 against Ivory Coast.

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