Thulani Serero poised to start as Baxter rejigs SA line up

Bafana's Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Serero, Tiyani Mabunda, Themba Zwane and Siyanda Xulu take a stroll down the FNB tunnel ahead of training yesterday.
Bafana's Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Serero, Tiyani Mabunda, Themba Zwane and Siyanda Xulu take a stroll down the FNB tunnel ahead of training yesterday.
Image: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Prodigal son Thulani Serero looks set to start for Bafana Bafana when they take on Nigeria in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the FNB Stadium tomorrow.

During yesterday's training session at the match venue, Serero appeared in all the probable starting teams as coach Stuart Baxter tried different combinations.

Baxter wouldn't commit on whether he would be in the line-up, but insisted Serero was in the right frame of mind after a year out of the national team after snubbing a call-up for the World Cup qualifier against Senegal.

"He's had an [ankle] injury that's prevented him from proper training for the week. So it's not just about throwing him in and let him swim or sink, but the players and staff have reacted well to him," Baxter noted.

"If you look at the whole situation, it's one where he took the initiative [to come back], and I believe he deserves that chance.

"If he starts or he's on the bench, that's not 100% yet."

Bidvest Wits trio Sifiso Hlanti, Thulani Hlatshwayo, and Buhle Mkhwanazi are destined for their starting berths in defence, while Cape Town City fullback Thamsanqa Mkhize may get the nod ahead of Ramahlwe Mphahlele of Kaizer Chiefs.

Baxter further said all the players were ready and, in a last-ditch effort, he's appealed for the nation's support.

"Yeah, it's very important. We can have our opinions about how things in the bigger perspective are going, but we are trying to develop a new team and at the same time win games - that's not the easiest thing to do.

"I don't think we should lose track of the fact that we all want the same thing; we are all taking part.

"I would like to make it intimidating there on the field for the Nigerians and intimidating up there [in the stands]. I hope all South Africans will come and support, give us that extra support."

Meanwhile, Mphahlele said it was vital to go for a win.

"We will obviously go for a win to qualify. We are playing at home, but we can't be naive and say we beat them [2-0] in Nigeria and therefore it's an obvious game," said the right-back," said Mphahlele.

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