Bafana coach Baxter explains Benoni-born Untersee's absence from squad
Stuart Baxter has said that Joel Untersee was not called up to the coach’s latest Bafana Bafana squad because his club‚ Empoli‚ continue playing through the March Fifa international date and are top of Serie B.
Baxter told media at a breakfast last week that Swiss national Untersee‚ who was born in Benoni‚ had committed to playing for Bafana.
The 24-year-old right-back is on loan at Empoli from Italian giants Juventus.
However‚ announcing his squad this week for next week’s four-nations tournament in Zambia‚ Baxter sounded less convinced of Untersee’s declared allegiance.
“I’ve got about five or six (potential Bafana) players (overseas) who I want to go out and see. Joel was one of them‚” Baxter said.
“Because I know that we’ve had a little conversation before‚ and it’s been‚ ‘No‚ not really‚ because I think I can probably get into the Swiss national team to go to the (2018) World Cup’.
“But after the disappointment there‚ plus the fact that we pressed harder and harder‚ and he saw a few of our games and became interested‚ and then he I think he turned.
“And I think he’s very keen now.”
That description does not quite match Baxter’s earlier assertion of commitment.
With Bafana next in action when they resume their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign at home to Libya in September‚ next week’s friendly tournament would have been an ideal opportunity to call Untersee‚ look at him‚ and tie him to South Africa by fielding him.
Baxter said he did not want to call Untersee with Empoli leading Serie B.
“I didn’t consider him on this one because Empoli are playing‚ and they’re top of Serie B‚ and I wouldn’t like to disrupt that and get off on the wrong foot‚” the coach asserted.
“So he will come down and do his paperwork at the end of their season‚ and he will be available after that.”
Empoli‚ a point clear of Frosinone in Seri B‚ meet 14th-placed Pescara on Sunday‚ March 25‚ the same day Bafana play their second match in Zambia.
Bafana meet Angola on Thursday‚ March 22‚ then‚ depending on that result‚ the winners or losers of Zambia and Zimbabwe in the next game.