Five of the best young players in Baxter's Bafana squad
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has pressed some right buttons with his decision to infuse young players in his latest squad as he prepares to build the team to represent South Africa at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon next year.
We name the five we strongly believe tick the right boxes and have the potential to remain in the Bafana fold for many years‚ given their age and talent.
1) Reeve Frosler (20)‚ Bidvest Wits‚ right-back/wingback
Frosler has had a fantastic development in the junior ranks of SA teams and won’t be overawed by international football.
He’s very quick for a wingback and always adds some dimension in attacking situations.
Baxter needs to polish Frosler’s defensive skills as he tends to stay longer up front after assisting in attack.
He’s one player that Bafana’s defence should be anchored around for the foreseeable future.
2) Siphesihle Ndlovu (21)‚ Martizburg United‚ midfielder
Ndlovu has proved to be a dynamic player in his first full season with Maritzburg United‚ playing in almost every position in midfield as well as at left back.
The young player‚ who is now destined to be crowned as the PSL’s Young Player of the Season in May‚ should have a long stint in Bafana given his versatility and energy.
He can play in central midfield‚ both on the right and left of the centre‚ and provides good passes for the strikers.
He is also equally adept at scoring goals‚ something Bafana midfielders always lack.
If he’s well groomed‚ understood and handled by Baxter‚ Ndlovu could be our next Shoes Moshoeu‚ the late legendary former Bafana player who won a lot of matches for the national team in the 1990s.
3) Tebogo Mokoena (20)‚ SuperSport United‚ midfielder
Like Ndlovu‚ Mokoena is another extremely gifted midfielder and he can be used both as a grafter and as an offensive midfielder.
Unlike Dean Furman‚ the player Baxter believes Bafana cannot play without‚ Mokoena can win possession and distribute the ball well while also looking for spaces to go for goal himself.
With SuperSport’s recent experience in the CAF Confederation Cup‚ Mokoena has benefited from playing against some of the best players on the continent.
He’s young but there’s no doubt about his readiness to have a long stint in Bafana‚ hopefully changing their fortunes alongside Ndlovu in the heart of the midfield.
4) Aubrey Modiba (22)‚ SuperSport United‚ midfielder
Modiba’s main attribute is his eye for goal‚ something most South African midfielders fail to apply consistently in their game.
He’s proven this season at SuperSport that he’s good going forward‚ contributing six goals in a poor season.
Modiba was one of SuperSport’s most capped players in the Confed Cup where they finished second behind DRC’s TP Mazembe.
It was in that CAF competition that Modiba demonstrated how ready he was to graduate to Bafana.
Hopefully Baxter won’t be hesitant to use Modiba in more offensive areas of the field‚ giving support to Percy Tau and Phakamani Mahlambi‚ the likely long-term duo up front.
5) Phakamani Mahlambi (20)‚ Al Ahly‚ winger-cum-striker
Mahlambi has been called to Bafana camps on many occasions but Baxter has been reluctant to throw him into the deep end.
With a few games and a goal in his first year with Egyptian giants Al Ahly‚ there’s no doubting Mahlambi’s ability.
What is even more positive about Mahlambi’s play is that he can stay on the wings and attack from there while he’s also good going forward as a second striker.
Mahlambi’s inclusion in the starting Bafana XI is long overdue and one would hope that this time Baxter will unleashes him from the shackles.
He’s is definitely one for the future.