Former Pirates man withdrawn from Bafana squad

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has confirmed the withdrawal of Lehlogonolo Masalesa from the side set to do duty in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers against Botswana.

Baxter initially called up Masalesa to the squad and admitted to not knowing whether he would be eligible to play, following his free agent status after parting ways with Greek outfit AE Larissa. CHAN tournament rules stipulate that only players plying their trade in the domestic league can play in the tournament.

Masalesa has subsequently been replaced by Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Sibusiso Kumalo, with SuperSport United’s Mari Booysen being handed the captain’s armband.

“It’s has been an unfortunate process, but we needed to confirm if he was eligible.

“Masalesa does not have a local address in terms of club affiliation, so it’s a blow because we had him in the starting line-up and we will have to change the shape and the way we play.

“I was up all night last night talking to a few coaches, and Pitso Mosimane has come to our rescue and he will give us midfielder Sibusiso Khumalo.

“So at the moment we are in the process of trying to get him on board. We are just hoping that we don’t lose other players, either to injury or to being recalled by their clubs, because it has been difficult getting players for the Cosafa Cup and CHAN, and it makes it almost impossible to make proper preparations.

“Apart from Masalesa, Mario has been the one to take responsibility on his shoulders and tried to talk, help out the other boys.

“He also has a bit more experience than most, and he is a centre-back, I like defenders to be captains, I don’t like wingers or forwards because they are usually concentrated on their own role, they don’t like to help much,” he said.

Bafana Bafana face the Zebras on Saturday, 15 July 2017 at the Francistown Stadium, with kick-off scheduled for 15:00.

The second leg will be played a week later at the Moruleng Stadium in the North West.

The tournament will take place from 11 January to 2 February 2018.

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/Backpagepix

– This story originally appeared on FourFourTwo.co.za