Tokelo Rantie snubs Bafana Bafana - again
Stuart Baxter tried hard not to say it in those exact words‚ but Tokelo Rantie has snubbed Bafana Bafana for their huge must-win World Cup qualifiers against Senegal next month.
As Baxter announced his squad at Safa House in Nasrec on Thursday morning‚ Rantie’s name was the notable absence.
The Bafana coach said he had been in contact with Rantie‚ who had expressed unhappiness at not being named in Baxter's previous squad that beat Burkina Faso 3-1 at FNB Stadium on October 7‚ and said he “needed space to think about his international career”.
Rantie missed Turkish club Genclerbirligi’s last league game injured on the weekend‚ but Baxter said that was not the reason for the striker’s omission.
“No‚ he’s available. The last time I was sat here and named a squad I gave the reasons why Tokelo was not in the squad‚” Baxter said.
“That was that he’d just come off a three-game suspension [for his club]‚ his coach was playing him as a winger‚ and I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with his performance against Cape Verde.
“Given those reasons‚ I had a conversation with Tokelo where he wasn’t that happy with that.
“He was explaining some of the problems he's had [in Turkey]‚ and how he’s not feeling too good and he wants some space to think about both his international career and his career in Turkey‚ and if he should try and get back into Bafana or move on.
“So I’ve just decided that this is not the right time [to call him].”
Baxter was asked to clarify if Rantie had turned down a Bafana call-up.
“When I spoke to Tokelo he was disappointed that he wasn’t called up last time‚" Baxter said.
“And he sent me a text saying‚ ‘Look‚ I think it’s best if‚ no matter how I’m playing‚ I don't join up in this one’.
“So whether Tokelo in his disappointment doesn’t think he’s ready‚ or whatever‚ that’s his prerogative.
“He’s got the right to say that.
"He’s also got the right next time round to say‚ ‘Look‚ I’m available’.
“And then I’ve got the right to select the squad that I want to select.
“So I don’t want to take things to being categorical‚ but certainly he didn’t feel in the right frame of mind to be in the squad.”
Rantie has been guilty of no-shows for the national team before‚ occasions where he was threatened with disciplinary measures by the SA Football Association‚ but where those did not materialise.
The striker never pitched for Bafana’s 1-1 opening draw of the Russia 2018 qualifiers against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou under Baxter’s predecessor Shakes Mashaba.
Bafana need to beat Senegal twice to reach the World Cup.