With Dean Furman ruled out for Bafana Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations clash against Namibia, an opportunity will be presented to someone else to fill the role and there’s no shortage of quality options.
Central midfield is where Bafana are blessed the most with options and the only headache Baxter will have is which one of his talented midfielders will he pick for tonight’s Group D encounter, with Bongani Zungu, Tiyani Mabunda and Hlompho Kekana as options to come in.
Should he decide to go on experience, and current form, Kekana is the man Baxter would probably go for. The Mamelodi Sundowns captain had another great season with his club both domestically and on the continent, playing over 50 matches since June last year. The reigning Absa Premiership Midfielder of the Season may be 34, but he has shown that the heavy schedule of back-to-back matches, as well as the many hours spent in buses and on the plane, do not affect him at all on the pitch because he continues to deliver.
Kekana is effective in both halves of the pitch, working tirelessly to protect the back four while also getting forward and chipping in with assists and goals. His long range passing can be a big threat to the opposition, as he is usually able to spot the runs made by players such as Percy Tau, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Themba Zwane.
It would be his chance to finally make a first appearance at AFCON, a moment he would not doubt saviour.
Zungu’s season in the French Ligue 1 was hampered by injury, but he recovered just in time to get some minutes towards the end of the season with Amiens. He’s a good passer of the ball and has the energy to cover a lot of ground in both halves of the pitch.
Mabunda, Kekana’s midfield partner at Sundowns, can also come in and do a splendid job.
No matter who fills the role in front of the back four, Bafana know that there’s no room for error after losing 1-0 to Ivory Coast in their opening encounter on Monday.