Baxter names South Africa squad for crucial Afcon qualifier against Libya
South Africa have called up midfielders Keegan Dolly and Bongani Zungu for this month's vital Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya, despite having just recovered from long-term injuries and have also included Dutch-born Lars Veldwijk in a bid to find a solution to their goal-scoring woes.
Coach Stuart Baxter named 24 players for the game against Libya in Sfax, Tunisia on Sunday, 24 March where Bafana Bafana need to avoid defeat to ensure a place at the 2019 finals in Egypt.
The inclusion of 26-year-old Zungu, who suffered a serious knee injury in Ligue 1 action for Amiens in September, and that of fellow French-based professional Keegan Dolly, is a surprise as both have played just one game in the reserves since returning.
Dolly, also 26, broke his fibula in action for Montpellier in mid-September and since then has played just one match - in the French fourth division for his club's reserve team at the start of this month.
Veldwjik, 27, won a single cap under previous coach Ephraim Mashaba three years ago, when he proved unconvincing, but is back in the squad after his 17 goals in the Dutch second division for Sparta Rotterdam attracted Baxter's attention.
South Africa have a poor record in front of goal in terms of chances created and then successfully finished.
Rivaldo Coetzee, Dean Furman and Kamohelo Mokotjo all return from injury in a boost to the team.
"It's good to have almost everyone back on board because there is no doubt how crucial this match is - no one needs a reminder of that," said Baxter, who included Bruce Bvuma as third choice goalkeeper.
He is the Kaizer Chiefs back-up who has been playing for his club since Itumeleng Khune suffered a long term injury.
South Africa are second in Group E, and need just a point to book their place but if they lose Libya will qualify instead, likely precipitating the departure of Baxter.
"We are well aware of what we need to do - the mission is clear, win your match and you are safe," added Baxter.
"It is very dangerous to play for a draw as it can come back to bite you - the match will dictate how we handle things but our approach from the onset is to go out there and win the match.
"They want it as much as we do, so it is going to be battle royale in Tunisia and I am confident my players will be ready for it. I am optimistic they will leave everything on the field to make sure we cross that line."
South Africa squad:
Goalkeepers: Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs), Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United)
Defenders: Daniel Cardoso (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sfiso Hlanti, Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits), Aubrey Modiba (SuperSport United), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates), Thamsanqa Mkhize (Cape Town City), Buhle Mkhwanazi (Bidvest Wits)
Midfielders: Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates), Tiyani Mabunda (Mamelodi Sundowns), Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford, ENGLAND), Thulani Serero (Vitesse FC), Bongani Zungu (Amiens, FRANCE), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Strikers: Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, FRANCE), Lebogang Maboe (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebo Mothiba (Racing Strasbourg, FRANCE), Percy Tau (Royal Union Saint Gilloise, BELGIUM), Lars Veldwijk (Sparta Rotterdam)