Baxter backs Sandilands, Williams

First-choice goalkeeper Khune could miss out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against West African giants Senegal after fracturing facial bones in the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal against Chippa United on Sunday.

Bafana will get an update on Khune's availability on Tuesday morning, as they prepare to face the Lions of Teranga at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Friday (19h30).

Sandilands has come off a difficult week with his club Orlando Pirates, conceding five goals in the space of four days. He was criticised for coming off his line in matches against his former side Mamelodi Sundowns and Polokwane City.

Williams, meanwhile, is a star performer at club level, but he has not taken the opportunities given to him in the senior national team.

“I have total confidence in both keepers, absolute confidence. I can’t remember a goalkeeper that I have not seen throw one in. I have seen Itu throw them in as well. I remember when I joined Chiefs, they showed me a free-kick which Itu threw in and I am thinking ‘that’s going to be my goalkeeper’. I have total confidence in whoever is going to play, if Itu does not play. Whoever plays will meet the challenge,” Baxter said.

Without Khune in goal in the back-to-back defeats to Cape Verde in September Bafana struggled, but his presence in the 3-1 victory Burkina Faso at FNB Stadium last month made a huge difference.

He was superb in goal and his distribution skills led to two of Bafana's three goals that afternoon. Baxter, though, does not want the team and the country at large to think that the team cannot perform without some of its key players.

“I don’t think in terms of ‘when he played we won and they played we didn’t win’. You have got to believe in your players and they have to believe in themselves. If we keep worrying about what’s happened in the past, then we will struggle. That’s not going to enter my world. Whoever is in goals, I believe they can do the job and he needs to know that and give every thing he’s got. I am confident, with or without Itu,” he said.

“The captain [Thulani Hlatshwayo] was not playing against Burkina Faso and ‘Tower’ [Mulomowandau Mathoho] was out. Those two were outstanding against Nigeria and so therefore you are thinking ‘we are missing the skipper’ and we end up being rock solid and we win the game [against Burkina Faso].

“I would like us to be at the point where we were against Burkina Faso, when Tyson did not play and Clayton [Daniels] came in and did the job. That’s how I want to be with Itu. If Itu does not play, then whoever comes in knows how important it is to set us up quickly. The biggest thing there is that we don’t spread that sort of uncertainty. We have to get to a point in the squad where we say ‘I believe in myself and I believe in my teammates’.”

Let the breaking news come to you! Sign up for KICK OFF SMS