Bafana Bafana interim coach Molefi Ntseki on Friday announced his squad to face Zambia next month and has explained some of the surprise inclusions.
As is the norm, opinions have varied regarding contents of the 23-man list, with some doubts as to why certain individuals were selected ahead of others.
The former junior national team mentor has provided insight into his thinking, while also explaining that omissions that were part of the 2019 AFCON squad were merely to afford rest to players who had undergone a taxing few months at club and international level.
“Petersen is 24-years-old and has been with Bafana Bafana before; he has worked with coach Andre Arendse before but he’s a new face in the team,” explained Ntseki.
“All young South African goalkeepers are injured, so we could not get any youngster ones into this position. We felt with the profile of Brandon that he would be the one to come in.”
In defence, the return of Kaizer Chiefs defender Erick Mathoho as well as Mamelodi Sundowns full-back Thapelo Morena were touched on, while Thato Mokeke’s inclusion was a big surprise particularly as a defender despite being a midfielder at Cape Town City.
“Mathoho has done very well for Bafana Bafana in the past; we felt coming back from an injury and having looked at him in the pre-season and during the past matches he’s played [with Chiefs], he did very well so he deserves to be back,” he said.
“Morena has been doing well for Sundowns at right-wing back, so we felt we need to give him a chance and have a look at how best he can help us going forward.
“I had a chat with Coach Benni on Tuesday when we met after their game against Sundowns and I made it clear to him why I have Thato Mokeke as a defender, even though he has been doing well as a midfielder.
“Mokeke has been in the game for very long, played at left-back for Ajax Cape Town and then SuperSport United, and now he’s doing very well for Cape Town City as a midfielder, so he’s a very gifted left-footed player.”
Rivaldo Coetzee also makes a return after going absent without trace from the pre-AFCON squad in June, with Guingamp midfielder Lebogang Phiri also getting a fresh look-in.
“Rivaldo, towards the end of last year, we profiled him and wanted to bring him into Bafana Bafana as a defender, but for the past matches he’s done well as a midfielder. I was also impressed with the way he played against Cape Town City on Tuesday,” added Ntseki.
“Lebo Phiri – we have been following him since the beginning of the season and he has been doing well for his team in France.”
Up front, Grobler and Erasmus both make a comeback following the manner in which they have started the 2019/20 season for their respective club sides.
“Grobler is one of the proven goal scorers in this country, he’s vey technically sound when it comes to goal scoring, while Kermit Erasmus did very well towards the end of the season, since he joined Cape Town City.
“He has also been doing very well since the start of this season. He was part of us before we went to Egypt but he could not make the cut, so we felt we should bring him in because he’s got qualities that can help take the team to the next level.”