Baxter goes for youth with latest Bafana squad

Phakamani Mahlambi Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

South Africa coach Stuart Baxter has named a much-changed squad for the four-nation tournament in Zambia later this month, selecting a noticeably younger group of players with an eye on qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Bafana Bafana will play Angola in Ndola on March 22, before meeting either Zimbabwe or Zambia at the same venue three days later.

As the matches fall within the FIFA International window, Baxter has been able to call on his overseas players, but selected just a handful as he looks closer to home to inject new blood into the side.

He made 14 changes from the squad that missed out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup against Senegal last November, providing a return to the likes of Phakamani Mahlambi (Al Ahly, Egypt), Aubrey Modiba and Teboho Mokoena (both SuperSport United), Ryan Moon (Kaizer Chiefs) and Lebo Mothiba (Lille, France).

There is also a first call-up for Ajax Cape Town goalkeeper Brandon Petersen, Orlando Pirates defender Innocent Maela, and Maritzburg United midfielder Siphesihle Ndlovu, who has been in excellent form this season.

There are just five overseas-based players in the group, with the others being France-based Keagan Dolly (Montpellier) and Bongani Zungu (Amiens), and Kamohelo Mokotjo from Brentford in the English Championship.

Baxter has also called up the entire Bidvest Wits defensive line, which suggests he will be looking at combinations that know each other well.

The only other first-time call-up in the squad is Chiefs defender Daniel Cardoso.

South Africa are on a horror run of results, with just a single victory in their last seven games and five defeats in the last six matches, piling the pressure on Baxter in what is his second spell with the team.

South Africa squad

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits), Brandon Petersen (Ajax Cape Town)

Defenders: Reeve Frosler, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi, S'fiso Hlanti (all Bidvest Wits), Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Daniel Cardoso (both Kaizer Chiefs), Motjeka Madisha (Mamelodi Sundowns), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates)

Midfielders: Dean Furman, Teboho Mokoena, Aubrey Modiba (all SuperSport United), Siphesihle Ndlovu (Maritzburg United), Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford, England), Bongani Zungu (Amiens, France), Sibusiso Vilakazi, Themba Zwane (both Mamelodi Sundowns), Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates), Keagan Dolly (Montpellier, France), Phakamani Mahlambi (Al Ahly, Egypt)

Forwards: Percy Tau (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lebo Mothiba (Lille, France), Ryan Moon (Kaizer Chiefs)