Baxter to name his squad

26 October 2017 - 07:47 By MARC STRYDOM
Bidvest Wits captain and Bafana Bafana defender ThulanI Hlatshwayo.
Bidvest Wits captain and Bafana Bafana defender ThulanI Hlatshwayo.

Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and striker Tokelo Rantie are expected to return as Stuart Baxter names his squad on Thursday for next month's must-win World Cup qualifiers against Senegal.

Baxter is unlikely to make many changes from the squad that beat Burkina Faso 3-1 at FNB Stadium on October 7.

Hlatshwayo was out injured and Baxter had to play with a makeshift defence against Burkina Faso.

The Bidvest Wits captain made a return to action for his club in Sunday's 1-0 Absa Premiership win against Baroka FC in Polokwane, though he was booked and picked up an immediate one-game suspension.

Hlatshwayo will miss Wits' Telkom Knockout last-16 clash against Free State Stars at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday but can return for the Clever Boys' home league game against Chippa United on November 1.

Baxter will hope his captain can get a run in that match as Hlatshwayo will be in need of match practice having sat out most of October.

The defender pulled out with a knee injury sustained in training a day before Wits beat Orlando Pirates 1-0 on September 23.

Hlatshwayo's return might raise a selection poser for Baxter.

Clayton Daniels and Morgan Gould put in a solid shift as the coach's central defensive pairing against Burkina Faso as Bafana bounced back from disastrous back-to-back 2-1 defeats against Cape Verde in September.

Those results, then the win against Burkina Faso, have left Bafana needing to beat Senegal twice - in Polokwane on Friday November 10 and in Dakar on Tuesday November 14 - to top Group D and qualify for Russia 2018.

Injuries meant Baxter had to field a defence against Burkina Faso that retained just two players - Gould and leftback Sifiso Hlanti - from the loss against Cape Verde.

Hlatshwayo's Wits centreback teammate Buhle Mkhwanazi and Kaizer Chiefs rightback Ramahlwe Mphahlele remain on the sidelines.

Rantie was dropped for the Burkina Faso game having scored against Cape Verde in Praia - the reason being the striker would be suspended at Turkish club Genclerbirligi.

The pacey striker has played three games since, two as a substitute and one starting, including coming off the bench and setting up the winner in Genclerbirligi's home 2-1 win in the Ankara club's big match against Istanbul rivals Besiktas on October 13.

The Bafana striker, though, was not in the squad for Genclerbirligi's 3-3 draw away against Akhisar Belediyespor on Saturday and The Times was unable to establish if this was due to an injury.