Bafana Bafana legend Matthew Booth has defended the selection of Kaizer Chiefs duo Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Daniel Cardoso in the latest squad.
The Amakhosi defenders were selected in the South Africa squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt next month despite the club’s worst season in recent memory.
Booth believes it was the right call by Stuart Baxter.
"There's a balancing act which the coach has to keep between bringing in too many new players now that they have qualified, as opposed to keeping players who have helped the team qualify,” Booth explains to KickOff.com.
"Mphahlele in particular, he's been a regular in qualifying so I can understand why he's kept him in the squad. But certainly again he is one of the players who's got to prove himself during this mini-camp session because Chiefs hasn't had the best season and that will certainly be on the minds of Cardoso and Mphahlele.
“It will give them motivation to perform during the next couple of weeks, because there's some stiff competition in defence. You know he's going to be up against [Thamsanqa] Mkhize who's had a fantastic season depending on what formation they play at the back."
Booth was surprised by the inclusion of Crystal Palace's Nikola Tavares and FC Zurich's Joel Unteresee. Baxter confirmed that the duo will be included in the team if they can get proper documentation before the tournament.
Although happy with the majority of the players selected, Booth questions the timing of the two defenders' selection for such a big tournament when they have never played for the national team before.
"I was a little bit surprised that he's included Tavares and Unteresee because bringing in a new player at this stage is a little bit of a risk you know," Booth says.
The former Mamelodi Sundowns defender also questioned the omission of Orlando Pirates attacker Vincent Pule.
"Pule is not included, that's probably one of the players I would feel sorry for, I think he's done very well this last season. But I think looking at the attacking options it's very difficult to get into that particular department. But I would probably say that was a little bit of a surprise for me,” he adds.
"I think he was fairly consistent, I think he was part of that Pirates attack which contributed to the fact that they went toe to toe with Sundowns right until the end of the season. And yeah he had a couple of games where he perhaps underperformed but that's the same for every player during the season, but I think overall he had a great season, and I think the Pirates attack fed off each other you know. So I was really impressed by him. I can see his form dips here and there but for me he is national team player quality. He is a little bit unlucky I think.
"Other than that I think it's a good squad with a lot of depth in each department, especially defensively. I think the players that he's brought in there can play in a back four, in a back three, which will give him some nice options when it comes to the group stages in terms of trying a little bit of variety perhaps."