South Africa make changes for crucial Seychelles double-header

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter has made a number of intriguing changes to his squad for the must-win back-to-back African Nations Cup qualifiers against Seychelles later this month.

It includes a recall for China-based striker Dino Ndlovu, who has netted 18 goals in 20 games for second-tier side Hangzhou Greentown, as well as returns for France-based Lebogang Phiri and Phakamani Mahlambi, as well as first call-ups for Cape Town City midfielder Thabo Nodada and Mamelodi Sundowns right-sided player Thapelo Morena.

There are six changes in all from the squad that played to a disappointing 0-0 draw with Libya last time out, though a few are injury-enforced with Bradley Grobler, Keagan Dolly and Bongani Zungu missing out.

Bafana Bafana’s search for goals has led to a recall for in-form Ndlovu, who won the last of his five caps in the 3-1 home World Cup qualifier win over Burkina Faso last October.

He has yet to net at international level despite prolific form in Israel, Cyprus and Azerbaijan, before his move to China at the start of this year.

Phiri won the last of his five caps for Bafana in June last year, but has returned to the Guingamp starting XI this season and has by all accounts been in good form.

Also included is Strasbourg forward Lebo Mothiba, who controversially pulled out of the Libya clash through injury, though he missed no Ligue 1 games for his new club.

He is another form forward having netted at the weekend for Strasbourg.

Bafana are expected to win both encounters against the Seychelles, home on October 13 and away three days later, and Baxter has urged those coming into the squad to grab their opportunity.

“In midfield and upfront, we have made changes that gives us options and we can play with fullbacks,” Baxter told reporters on Monday. “I hope the changes don’t affect team morale and the desire to get the job done. What I am expecting is to grab their chances and try to establish themselves.”

If Bafana win both games and Nigeria beat Libya in their pair of matches, it would leave South Africa needing just a point from their two remaining qualifiers to reach the finals in Cameroon next year.

If Libya stun the Nigerians in both games then a pair of wins would be enough for Bafana to qualify. 

South Africa squad:

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Darren Keet (BidVest Wits)

Defenders: Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Kaizer Chiefs), Motjeka Madisha, Thapelo Morena (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Siyanda Xulu (Maritzburg United), Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkwanazi, Sifiso Hlanti (all BidVest Wits), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders: Dean Furman, Teboho Mokoena (both SuperSport United), Lebogang Maboe, Hlompho Kekana, Sibusiso Vilakazi (all Mamelodi Sundowns), Thabo Nodada (Cape Town City), Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford, England), Vincent Pule (Orlando Pirates)

Strikers: Lebogang Phiri (Guingamp, France), Dino Ndlovu (Hangzhou Greentown, China), Percy Tau (Royal Union St Gilloise, Belgium), Lebo Mothiba (Racing Strasbourg, France), Phakamani Mahlambi (Mamelodi Sundowns)