Cape Town - New Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter has named a 25-man squad to face Nigeria in the opening match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The clash takes place on Saturday, June 10 at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo State, Nigeria.
Baxter has kept a good number of players that did duty against Guinea-Bissau and Angola in back-to-back friendly international matches in March.
Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, Bongani Zungu and Tokelo Rantie make a welcome return to the national team.
Aubrey Ngoma of Cape Town City has also been called up.
“I am quite pleased with the squad we have assembled. We have a small element of development with a couple of young players. We also have some players who are returning to the squad, the likes of Zungu and Rantie,” said Baxter as quoted by the official SAFA website.
“We have players who have been outstanding in the PSL for the whole season, we also have continuity with a number of players that SAFA have invested much time in and we have them in the team. I believe we have a good mix.
“We have also looked at aerial strength and tried to spread that well throughout the team, it means if we can have good preparation before we go, then we have a squad that is capable of giving Nigeria a good game.”
South Africa have come up against the Super Eagles 12 times, with the West Africans emerging victorious on seven occasions with four matches drawn.
Bafana Bafana’s only win against Nigeria came under the reign of Baxter - it was an international friendly match in 2004 played at Ellis Park.
Shaun Bartlett and Benedict Vilakazi scored the goals.
“When you look at Nigeria, it’s like the who's who of African football as most of their players play across the top leagues of the world, that doesn’t always mean it’s a good team but Nigeria has had a run of games that suggests that they are finding their feet,” Baxter explains.
“We will play them having spent a three-week training camp in France but we will monitor their games.
“They will be playing against Togo and Corsica, and I will have a bit of intelligence on them, but I have already gathered some even before these matches.”
The Bafana Bafana squad will assemble for camp at Orlando Stadium on Thursday, June 1.
There will be two training sessions on Monday and Tuesday, before the team jets off on Wednesday, June 7 to Uyo State via Lagos.
Meanwhile, Libya will host Seychelles in the Group E encounter on Friday, June 9.
The 32nd edition of the tournament is set to be held in Cameroon between 12 January and 3 February 2019.
Kick off is at 18:00 (SA time).
BAFANA BAFANA SQUAD:
Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Darren Keet (Wits), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United).
Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Wits), Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Lorenzo Gordinho (Kaizer Chiefs), Abbubaker Mobara (Orlando Pirates), Tebogo Langerman (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sifiso Hlanti (Wits).
Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France), Andile Jali (K.V. Oostende, Belgium), Kamohelo Mokotjo (FC Twente, Netherlands), Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Bongani Zungu (Vitória S.C, Portugal), Aubrey Ngoma (Cape Town City).
Percy Tau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebogang Manyama (Cape Town City), Kermit Erasmus (LENS, France), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Mamelodi Sundowns), Tokelo Rantie (Genclerbirligi, Turkey), Thamsanqa Gabuza (Orlando Pirates).