Baxter 'disappointed' as Rivaldo Coetzee ruled out for Bafana at Afcon
Rivaldo Coetzee has been released from the Bafana Bafana preliminary squad training camp for the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Mamelodi Sundowns utility player did not arrive for camp due to his mother being “critically ill” and he has since failed to update the team's management on his situation.
Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was reluctant to criticise Coetzee and he was he was cautious of the situation because he does not know the circumstances surrounding the player’s ill mother.
But Baxter announced after a Bafana training session at Steyn City in Johannesburg on Friday that Coetzee's “disappointing” failure to be in communication for three days since being released from the camp made him “unselectable”‚ and he has been ruled out of the Nations Cup.
“Rivaldo called me on the day we assembled and said that his mother was critically ill‚ he didn't think that she would make it through the night and asked if he could go‚” Baxter explained.
“I said‚ of course you can go. But be careful‚ you're going to miss training.”
“I said‚ 'How much have you been doing?' He said‚ 'Nothing'. I said‚ 'OK‚ well that's going to be a challenge'.
“We gave him permission to go to his mother. And then‚ we heard nothing [from him] for three days. The doctor (team doctor Thulani Ngwenya) has tried to contact him‚ we've heard nothing. And now‚ all we can tell you is he's in the Northern Cape somewhere‚ that makes him unselectable.”
Coetzee's Sundowns teammate Phakamani Mahlambi was ejected from the shadow U23 team who represented South Africa in this week's Cosafa Cup due to “personal problems.”
Baxter was reluctant to draw a comparison to Coetzee's situation.
“When I say I've got to be careful‚ that's where I have to be careful‚" the coach said.
“Because if his mother is critically ill then I don't want to make it sound like‚ 'Well‚ we've not been able to contact him'.
“[But] If you want to play for your national team then we're guessing that you're at least in touch with your coach saying that‚ 'Look‚ I'm coming. Don't worry about me‚ I'm training'."
Baxter said he was disappointed Coetzee had not been in contact Bafana.
“Look‚ again‚ I'm not going to go out and slaughter him‚ because I don't know the situation there‚” the coach said.
“All I'm saying is that he's not got back to us. And that's disappointing. He's not got back to us and shown the desire‚ even though he has personal issues‚ to get into the squad. I went out on a limb a little bit selecting Rivaldo despite his lack of playing time because I think he's a bit of the future.
“ ... So‚ the fact that he's not shown that desire to let us know what the situation is makes him unselectable. And that's disappointing.”
South Africa play their first game of the Egypt 2019 against Ivory Coast in Cairo on Monday‚ June 24.
Baxter will announce his final 23-man squad on Sunday.