Baxter set to make changes in the heart of his Bafana lineup for Nigeria showdown

Head coach Stuart Baxter during the South African national mens soccer team training session at Steyn City School on November 13, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Head coach Stuart Baxter during the South African national mens soccer team training session at Steyn City School on November 13, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

With a number of his regular midfield starters out through an assortment of injuries‚ coach Stuart Baxter will have no option but to make key changes in the heart of his line-up when Bafana Bafana host Nigeria in a penultimate African Nations Cup qualifier at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Kamohelo Mokotjo and Dean Furman‚ the two players who started for Bafana in their last two qualifiers against Seychelles last month‚ are out injured and Baxter is likely to fill that area with the Mamelodi Sundowns duo of Hlompho Kekana and Tiyani Mabunda.

The changes are unlikely to end there‚ however‚ with prodigal son Thulani Serero set to be given the playmaker role after smoking the peace pipe with Baxter to end self-imposed exile.

Also likely to start in midfield is another Sundowns attacking midfielder‚ Themba Zwane‚ who missed the Seychelles games due to injury.

“I have a choice to either put in Hlompho with Sugar (Mabunda) because they play together or I can try and go with one of the other two (Tebogo Mokoena and Fortune Makaringe)‚ who really are for the future‚” said Baxter.

“I’ve got to make that decision and I’ve got to make that decision based on how we wanna play and how we want to get at them.

“So I think whoever I pick will do the job.

“It’s a big ask for them to go up against the likes of (Alex) Iwobi and people like that‚ but I think they will do a job.”

Baxter admitted that he was close to finalising his starting line-up against a Nigerian side he’s managed to beat in two previous matches at the helm.

“I’ve got an idea (of the starting XI) but maybe there’s one or two places that I’m not 100% certain of at the moment‚” said the Briton on Wednesday.

“I want the camp to tell me about that (the starting line-up.

“We’ve done the tactical stuff and I want them to try and find each other.

“I thought the longer the training went (on Wednesday) the better it looked. It was okay as a sort of rehearsal.”

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