Johannesburg - Tokelo Rantie may have kissed his international career goodbye – as long as Stuart Baxter is still at the helm of Bafana Bafana.
After Rantie made himself unavailable for the national team following his omission from the previous squad for the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso, Baxter hinted that he might not consider the Turkey-based Gençlerbirligi striker in future.
But all the blame should go to Safa for his rants after failing to discipline him on numerous occasions.
Arrived late at camp
The 27-year-old is a serial offender, after failing to pitch for national duty on two occasions and also arriving late to camp once.
Safa did nothing and now the player is showing Baxter the middle finger.
In 2015, the striker missed Bafana Bafana’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Gambia in Durban. He was also absent last year when Bafana travelled to Ouagadougou for their opening World Cup qualifier.
Then he arrived late at camp in Cape Verde early last month.
Despite threatening to take action against him, Safa has done nothing.
However, Baxter is not going to let him get away with his prima donna tendencies.
Even though Baxter was non-committal on Rantie’s future engagements with the national team, he indicated that he would give him his space.
“He wants some space to think about both his international career and his career in Turkey; whether he should try and get back into South Africa or move on. So we just decided that this is not the right time,” said Baxter.
“When I spoke to Tokelo, he was disappointed that he wasn’t called up last time and he sent me a text saying it’s better if he didn’t join up.
“I’ve got the right to select the squad I want to select, so... I don’t want to make things too categoric, but certainly he didn’t feel in the right frame of mind to be in this squad".
But Rantie is the least of Baxter’s concerns at the moment as his focus is on the next World Cup qualifier against Senegal next month.
Baxter is at Fifa’s mercy – he is in the dark regarding Bongani Zungu’s availability for the match.
While he is certain that Andile Jali will miss the game in Polokwane, he is crossing his fingers that Fifa rules in Safa’s favour and rescinds Zungu’s red card.
Fifa’s disciplinary committee will meet on Thursday to go through Safa’s appeal.
Excited many supporters
Baxter will have a selection headache for his defence squad, with the return of captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and Eric Mathoho.
After SuperSport United’s defensive pair of Morgan Gould and Clayton Daniels played well against Burkina Faso earlier this month, Baxter must decide whether to tamper with the pair or continue with their partnership.
But it is the return of Siphiwe Tshabalala which has excited many supporters, who have been calling for his inclusion.
Baxter said he was not thinking far ahead but “here and now” as Tshabalala’s experience, influence and hard work might work for the team against Senegal.