Johannes’s consistency and solid performances earlier in the season earned him a call-up to the previous Bafana camp, yet the veteran defender did not play a part in the 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso.
Nevertheless, the 31-year-old says he cherished the experience, saying it felt like a maiden call-up following the lengthy gap since his last national team appearance.
“I hadn’t been in the national team for almost nine years, so it had been a long time, and it felt like the first time being there again,” the City skipper said. “But it was a good experience. Coach [Stuart] Baxter is a top coach … you go to camps like these and you want to learn and grow as a player, and I feel like I’ve still got lots of years ahead of me and I’ve got lots to learn. It was great being part of the national team again, and hopefully we’ll qualify for the World Cup.”
Following back-to-back defeats against Cape Verde, Baxter's position at the helm came under scrutiny, yet Johannes feels the former Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United coach is the ideal candidate to take the national team to Russia.
“Coach Baxter is the perfect person to take us to the World Cup,” Johannes said. “He’s been there, done that and knows the local game and players, which is a big strength for us. He knows the culture and has been around forever, and his attitude towards the players and the national team is the right way to go. So he’s the main man to lead us there for sure.”
And despite the odds stacked against Bafana, with two must-win encounters coming up, Johannes believes the team can claim the six points necessary to secure their berth at next year’s spectacle.
“Definitely,” the defender said when asked about the possibility of recording successive wins. “With the players we have in the national team – there are so many options, and I think if you look at a young player like Percy Tau who is carrying the team, he has a bright future.
“Six points from two games is very possible which will see us through to the World Cup, which will be amazing for the country.”