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Baxter names Bafana Cosafa Cup squad with average age of 22.55

24 June 2017 - 12:40 By Marc Strydom
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter during the South African Men's national squad announcement at SAFA House on May 25, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter during the South African Men's national squad announcement at SAFA House on May 25, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has announced his squad for the Cosafa Cup in Rustenburg and Moruleng‚ with a strong emphasis on development.

With Premier Soccer League players on holiday or returning to their preseasons for 2017-18 as Bafana enter the Cosafa Cup in early July‚ Baxter has announced a squad devoid of any of the stars who beat Nigeria 2-0 in the June 10 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo.

The squad has an average age of just 22.55‚ and includes six of the members of the Amajita squad who did duty at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in South Korea last month.

These include defenders Thendo Mukumela of Mamelodi Sundowns‚ and Sandile Mthethwa and Tercious Malepe of Orlando Pirates; the impressive Benfica midfielder Thabo Cele; skilful Bidvest Wits winger Sibongakonke Mbatha and Sporting Lisbon forward Liam Jordan.

Three squad members have been retained from the trip to Nigeria for the new Bafana coach’s first match in charge.

These are 22-year-old midfielder Lebogang Phiri‚ who has just moved from Brondby in Denmark to Guingamp in France’s Ligue 1‚ Cape Town City winger Aubrey Ngoma and Kaizer Chiefs centreback Lorenzo Gordinho.

Phiri made a substitutes’ appearance – for debutant Ngoma – in Bafana’s 2-1 friendly defeat against Zambia at Moruleng Stadium four days after the Nigeria win. Phiri also featured in Baxter’s predecessor Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba’s squad that won the Cosafa Cup in Windhoek last year.

Gordinho also made his debut against Zambia.

Among other “senior” players in the current squad are the SuperSport United duo of winger Mandla Masango and goalkeeper Boalefa Pule. They are among three 27-year-olds‚ the other being Ngoma.

SuperSport centreback Mario Booysen is the oldest player in the squad at 28.

Maritzburg United’s exciting midfielder Lebohang Maboe and Cape Town City’s big striker Judas Moseamedi‚ both 23‚ have also been called.

Moseamedi also played at last year’s Cosafa Cup‚ the tournament for Southern African nations.

The group stages kick off on June 25. Bafana have a bye into the quarterfinals‚ where they meet the winners of Group A (Angola‚ Mauritius‚ Malawi‚ Tanzania) at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on June 2.

Bafana began a training camp in Rustenburg this weekend‚ which is initially being overseen by assistant coaches Molefi Ntseki and Thabo Senong.

Baxter joins the squad on Monday‚ arriving late due to coaching SuperSport United against Orlando Pirates in Saturday night’s Nedbank Cup final in Durban. That will be the coach’s last assignment on charge of Matsatsantsa before being released to join Bafana full-time.

Bafana squad for Cosafa Cup:

Goalkeepers: Darren Johnson (Ajax Cape Town)‚ Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs)‚ Boalefa Pule (SuperSport United)

Defenders: Thendo Mukumela (Mamelodi Sundowns)‚ Sandile Mthethwa (Orlando Pirates)‚ Mothobi Mvala (Highlands Park)‚ Mario Booysen (SuperSport United)‚ Tercious Malepe (Orlando Pirates)‚ Innocent Maela (Thanda Royal Zulu)‚ Lorenzo Gordinho (Kaizer Chiefs)

Midfielders: Thabo Cele (Benfica‚ Portugal)‚ Lebohang Maboe (Maritzburg United)‚ Sibongakonke Mbatha (Bidvest Wits)‚ Nduduzo Sibiya (Lamontville Golden Arrows)‚ Mandla Masango (SuperSport United)‚ Lehlogonolo Masalesa (Larissa‚ Greece)‚ Lebogang Phiri (Guingamp‚ France)‚ Aubrey Ngoma (Cape Town City)

Strikers: Liam Jordan (Sporting Lisbon‚ Portugal)‚ Judas Moseamaedi (Cape Town City)

- TimesLIVE