Cape Town - Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has been left frustrated by the withdrawals from the squad to face Zambia in the 2018 African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifiers.
Baxter had announced 25 players for the two-legged matches, but ten players were withdrawn shortly before the start of camp - Boalefa Pule, Ayabulela Konqobe, Michael Morton (all Amazulu), Mothobi Mvala (Highlands Park), Siyabonga Nhlapo, Denwin Farmer, Cole Alexander, Teboho Mokoena (all Supersport United) and Tercious Malepe (Orlando Pirates) while Riyaad Norodien (also Orlando Pirates) withdrew because of an injury.
Malepe has since been allowed to remain with the squad, while Sipho Mbule of Supersport United, is the latest to be recalled by his club.
Baxter has been able to make some adjustments but it has been a frustrating period for Bafana Bafana.
Seven new players have been called up: Keagan Pool and Tshepo Maboa (both Stellenbosch FC), Thato Lingweti, Mpho Rasilingwane and Lindokuhle Mntambo (all from Jomo Cosmos), Menzi Masuku (Chippa United) and Jabulani Shongwe (Bidvest Wits).
“The truth is, we understand that this competition comes at a very difficult time for clubs when they are in pre-season training, but we have been left frustrated by the continuous withdrawals of players which in some cases, we understand,” Baxter said as quoted by the official SAFA website.
"So it has not be a great experience for us in the national team as we have had to focus our attention on which players we have or are coming, instead of working on our plans for Zambia. It has really be frustrating, hopefully from tomorrow (Tuesday) we will be able get down to the business of we are here for, which is to prepare the team for a very crucial match."
"We have said before that we need to use this opportunity to give international experience to young players, and we would like to see if we can’t take that all the way by qualifying for the tournament.
"This is the last stage of the qualifiers, but the constant chopping and changing is not helping our course. Be that as it may, we would like to thank all the clubs that have been cooperative and assisted when we knocked on their doors."
The Bafana Bafana technical team is still working on further replacements, which will be announced as soon as they are confirmed by their clubs.
Meanwhile Platinum Stars defender, Simphiwe Mnguni has had to be released from the squad due to an ankle injury he suffered at his club. He was assessed by the medical team upon reporting for national team duty but was found to carrying the injury.
South Africa and Zambia meet in the first leg clash of the third and final round on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at Buffalo City Stadium in East London.
Kick off is at 15:00.